On the right, President Gustavo Petro and Álvaro Leyva.
Opposite, Gerardo Blyde and to his left Stalin González, among other members of the Venezuelan opposition.
Gustavo Petro and the Venezuelan opposition have agreed this Saturday on the need for Chavismo to set a date for the 2024 presidential elections in which they hope that an anti-Chavista candidate can face Nicolás Maduro with all the guarantees.
The president of Colombia and the Unitary Platform, an opposition political alliance that negotiates with the Maduro government in Mexico, have met for the first time and have agreed that there must be clear electoral rules in which democracy is respected.
“This is the moment, there is no other,” Colombian Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva said after the meeting.
“We hope that the elections will take place in 2024 with all the rules of the inter-American system (...).
It is time to give a bell in Latin America in the sense that what counts is democracy”, Leyva added.
The first request that Petro made to Maduro when he came to power was that he join the inter-American system, but the Venezuelan president has not yet shown any sign of wanting to return to the body that left the country at the request of Hugo Chávez.
Last week, Petro said in the OAS itself that the democratic charter had to be changed to reintegrate Venezuela and Cuba.
The foreign minister emphasized that after these elections —the true point on which all the discussion between the Government, the opposition and the White House revolves— there must come another electoral process in which the collegiate bodies have to be re-elected and elections for governors and governments are held. assemblies.
Leyva repeated three times in his speech that the date of the presidential elections must be agreed, "in an accelerated manner, but not in a hurry."
Gerardo Blyde, the leader of the Unitary Platform, pointed out that from the international summit organized by Petro in Bogotá to deal with the Venezuelan issue, "an exhortation" must come out so that the parties return to the negotiating table in Mexico, in a deadlock since November .
“Our intention is to reach agreements that conform to the exhaustion of the entire agenda to obtain the agreements that the country requires so that there are free elections, so that there are conditions to recover the Venezuelan economy, so that there are no political prisoners or persecution or violations of human rights," he added.
He was very clear in appreciating Petro's gesture, which has acquired a leading role in this process, but he reiterated up to two times that the negotiation must be carried out in Mexico.
That is “the essential tool”.
He insisted that they have never paralyzed the negotiation or left the table, which Chavismo has always done.
They try to exhaust all avenues.
"We are going to continue working with the Government of Petro and all the governments of the summit to bring democracy, freedom and economic and social improvement to our country," he concluded.
The Government of Colombia has bet almost all of its foreign policy on the relationship with Venezuela.
Petro had met Maduro up to six times, but until now he had not had any rapprochement with the opposition.
His position in those encounters was somewhat ambiguous.
He asked Maduro to implement a liberal democracy, but then he defended some of Chavismo's positions.
He even talked about promulgating an amnesty so that the current leaders of the Maduro government could not be prosecuted.
That has earned him harsh criticism.
The Brazilian Foreign Minister, for example, has had a different tone and has always referred to both parties when he talks about the Venezuelan political crisis.
“Political dialogue in Venezuela is domestic, it is internal,
Petro has not taken those steps until these last few weeks.
She has summoned a part of the opposition by letter and has invited the rest to join, even the most skeptical.
He knows that he needs to talk to both parties to reach an agreement, or at least to convince them to return to Mexico.
That dialogue has been stalled for five months, when one side and the other reached an agreement that seemed to lay the first stone of a great pact that would allow elections to be held next year in which the opposition has a real chance of victory.
Foreign Minister Álvaro Leyva, at the press conference after the meeting between the Government and the opposition.
Behind, Gerardo Blyde, leader of the Venezuelan anti-Chavistas in this meeting.
That understanding turned out to be a mirage.
The Venezuelan funds frozen abroad were not released, as promised.
Maduro took it as an affront.
Washington responded that Chavismo has not shown interest in democratizing Venezuelan institutions.
The relationship between both countries right now is one of mutual distrust.
That is where the other countries come in, they have to serve as a bridge.
From the international conference that Petro has put together, a roadmap is expected to come out with which to sit down the parties to talk.
The Colombian president, as he has said many times, is of the opinion that US sanctions have to be lowered as Maduro releases political prisoners and lifts the disqualification of opposition candidates.
However, in his meeting with Biden in the Oval Office of the White House, he introduced some nuances.
As he left the meeting, he said that he had agreed with the US president that the elections should be held first and then the sanctions should be lifted.
This directly clashes with the desires of Chavismo, which conditions the second to carry out the first.
The optimists believe that this international offensive will serve to find a way out of the Venezuelan crisis; the pressure on the government, they believe, is too great.
Maduro would not want to see himself as an international pariah again.
The disbelievers assume that the will to introduce changes will be staged, that there will be words of goodwill, but that at the moment of truth everything will continue as it has been until now, without any substantial change.
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