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LatinNews Daily - 14 July 2021

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VENEZUELA: Renewed push for imperilled Maduro-Guaidó negotiations

On 13 July, the International Contact Group on Venezuela (ICG) issued a statement calling for “urgent and good faith” efforts to negotiate a solution to Venezuela's political crisis in the wake of roundly condemned arrests of government critics. 

Analysis: 

The ICG’s efforts to promote dialogue in Venezuela have provided some respite to the de facto government led by Nicolás Maduro by promoting an alternative to escalating international economic sanctions. However, a recent crackdown on critics of the government have cast serious doubt on the prospects for genuine negotiations.  

  • The ICG is an initiative seeking to achieve a democratic solution to Venezuela’s political crisis, led by the European Union (EU) and comprising 14 European and Latin American governments. The ICG’s call yesterday for the government to “guarantee the civil and political rights, freedom and security of all political actors” and to “release all political prisoners” came after the previous day’s arrest of Freddy Guevara, the national coordinator for the opposition Voluntad Popular party. The ICG also called for “inclusive dialogue… that can lead to credible, free and transparent elections,” urging unity among the political opposition
  • Opposition leader, Juan Guaidómet yesterday with an EU delegation that is in Venezuela to determine whether the Maduro administration can deliver fair regional elections due in November. Guaidó did not provide details on his discussions with the delegation, but in remarks to journalists he said that the opposition is suffering “very serious persecution” and accused the government of seeking “to annihilate the democratic alternative.” He said that this “amounts to a crime against humanity as [the persecution] is systematic.” 
  • Guaidó also accused the government of clamping down on press freedom – an issue which again made headlines yesterday with the attempted arrest of local journalist, Mildred Manrique. Manrique posted videos on Twitter of police outside her apartment building, and said that they had left following the arrival of friends whom she had called for help. The day before this incident, Manrique had publicly offered to interview Carlos 'El Coqui' Luis Revete, a gang leader in Caracas’ Cota 905 neighbourhood and a key player in last week’s serious violence in the capital, which the government has blamed on the opposition. 

Looking Ahead: The US, which is not in the ICG, also voiced doubt at the prospects for a negotiated solution to Venezuela's crisis. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Kevin O’Reillyyesterday said that he is “sceptical that there is the good faith for this to happen.”