International Conference on (Lifting Sanctions on) Venezuela

I STRUGGLE for those who left, for those still here, and for the future of Venezuela. NGOs and relatives of those killed in the 2017 anti-government protests in Venezuela demanding justice from the attorney general, Tarek William Saab. Photo: EFE/ Miguel Gutierrez.

The Bogota Summit was less about democratizing the country and more about eliminating the measures that weigh on the Maduro dictatorship.

By Hector Schamis (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – It affirms: (1) the need to establish a timetable for holding free, transparent, and guaranteed elections; (2) that the agreement goes hand-in-hand with the lifting of sanctions; and (3) that the negotiation be accompanied by fast-tracking the realization of a single trust fund for social investment in Venezuela.

So says the very brief final declaration of the so-called Bogota Summit, formally “International Conference on the Political Process of Venezuela.” It could have been the declaration of any of the previous “summits”, for example, in the Dominican Republic, Norway, and Barbados, among others. And with equal elusiveness, instead of a list of conditions, concrete tasks, concessions and deadlines so that these elections with guarantees are actually guaranteed. The redundancy is intentional.

What is new and really important is, that with the US government at the table, the second point introduces the issue of lifting sanctions, while point 3 takes the first step towards it. It is fundamental: the creation of a trust fund requires first unfreezing the financial resources included under current sanctions, precisely on the part of the United States.

They must have shouted “Bingo!” in Miraflores. There are no clear political commitments or concrete steps defined, but the language leans in that direction. It always starts with the narrative. The title of this article, the clause in parentheses, also leans in that direction: The Bogota Summit was less about democratizing Venezuela and more about eliminating the measures that are problematic for the Maduro dictatorship.

It is no coincidence. Only two things trouble Maduro: the sanctions and the investigation of the International Criminal Court, which indicates the effectiveness of both strategies. The week before the summit, Maduro shouted for the “return” of gold from London and the 3.2 billion from CITGO paralyzed by sanctions, as a condition for negotiating elections. Jorge Rodríguez, meanwhile, demanded an immediate suspension of the investigation for crimes against humanity carried out by the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Court.

Such prior haughtiness degraded the event, hence the level of most of the envoys was lower than what the Colombian government expected. Petro should know that Maduro is “radioactive”. He has no friends or allies, only accomplices. Moreover, Guaido’s expulsion from Colombia did not help his government’s image. At least he was not sent to Venezuela and handed over to SEBIN, as was the case with Lorent Saleh in 2014.

You don’t need a crystal ball to know that removing sanctions without first extracting tangible concessions will only serve to give Maduro oxygen and, once again, prolong his stay in power. It would also allow the regime to continue plundering the Venezuelan people and state. The friction between factions of corrupt people who accuse each other of corruption, and for amounts that are measured in points of GDP rather than in figures full of zeros, demonstrates the magnitude of the looting. Tareck El Aissami remains at large, no surprise.

Does anyone actually believe that the regime would use the resources of the trust fund to feed, cure, educate and generate employment in order to reverse the exodus? Rodriguez’s demand is even more absurd. International justice acts independently, a concept alien to Chavista Venezuela. That is why power is the only possible amnesty. They should be informed that in Argentina and Uruguay, for example, judicial proceedings are still taking place today for crimes against humanity of the seventies. The same is true in several European ex-communist countries.

Here is a previous concession that no one at the Bogota Summit seems to have cared about: if the dictatorship is serious about free, transparent and guaranteed elections, release the political prisoners right now. But it is not serious, as we all know. For the Maduro dictatorship, power is the only possible amnesty because it’s the only thing that guarantees its impunity.

If they are also going to receive the resources that are currently under sanctions, the international community will have done nothing but finance this impunity.

*Originally published in Infoabe

Read more from Nicaragua here on Havana Times

One thought on “International Conference on (Lifting Sanctions on) Venezuela

  • May 3, 2023 at 4:12 pm

    Maduro ought to be squeezed like a lemon, until his pips squeak.

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