They Met Face to Face: Behind the Scenes at the Venezuelan Dialogues in Norway
The possibility of a military intervention remains on the table.
“The dialogue in Norway could be one of the last opportunities to achieve a civilized solution in Venezuela,” said a source involved in the negotiations that today are generating uncertainty and secrecy in the South American country.
Sources close to the dialogue in Norway told the PanAm Post that on Tuesday, May 28, both Chavismo and the opposition were “face to face”, which means they have made progress in the negotiations. However, they say that the electoral issue is the one that is taking the longest, because it has not yet been established what those elections would look like or if they would happen before or after a transitional government. “The face-to-face meeting has taken place three times, and one of them happened in Cuba,” said one source.
For its part, Celia Mendoza, a journalist with Voice of America, who is in Oslo covering the preliminary dialogues, gave the PanAm Post details of what is happening behind the scenes in a dialogue that could mean impunity for the Maduro regime.
Mendoza said that in Norway there is a great deal of uncertainty and secrecy. Sources are remaining tight-lipped, those involved involved in the negotiations are evading the press, and “since yesterday everyone stopped answering their phones to give any information.”
Mendoza has been able to gather that these negotiations are not new and have been ongoing since January of this year, and that, apparently, Dag Nylander, head Norwegian negotiator, traveled several times to Caracas to meet with those involved. “Remember well this name Dag Nylander, as he is one of the head negotiators, and also participated and engaged in peace dialogues in Colombia,” Mendoza informed the media.
The PanAm Post has warned that Nylander is involved in talks between politicians in Venezuela, and that his presence could be a bad omen for the South American country thirsting for justice, because, like in Colombia, such negotiations could lead to mass impunity, where many of those responsible for the crisis in the country, and violators of human rights, could end up not having to face justice, and even stay in power, as is currently the case with members of the FARC secretariat, who occupy seats in the Colombian Congress. They have never paid for their crimes and were handed their seats in Congress automatically, without winning them in an election.
From Norway they assume Delcy Rodríguez, Diosdado Cabello and Vladimir Padrino López to be the most powerful figures of Chavismo: “Norway sees them as the power behind power, if one of them stops supporting Maduro, that is when Maduro could feel in danger,” she said.
“Other information that has come to me, and that I have not been able to confirm, is that there are people from Guaidó’s ranks who are seeking to offer impunity, and even the lifting of international sanctions. There is also a proposal which seeks impunity for crimes of economic origin,” she said.
She clarified that everything is mainly rumors at this point, since there is no official information and “none of the actors wants to make firm statements.”
The possibility of a military intervention remains on the table: “my sources say that this would be one of the last resorts to achieve a civilized solution,” Mendoza reiterated.
“The only thing that is certain is that they are negotiating early presidential elections without the current CNE, but with the participation of Chavistas. It seems a proposal or attempt to restructure the CNE with representation of all political parties,” she explained.
“Although Guaidó has said that they have not met face to face, I have received information that yes, they saw each other and they sat down. It is a dialogue that began in the month of January.”
“The remaining doubts involve what conditions are involved in this dialogue, because questions arise such as: will there be a system of transitional justice in Venezuela that will result in impunity as took place in Colombia, or will an amnesty be established? We also do not know how long these talks will last. The only thing that is known is that those involved are finishing their meetings on Wednesday in Oslo and will return to Venezuela,” she said.
Other issues on the agenda include the situation of political prisoners, humanitarian aid, and the dismantling of the Chavista colectivos, armed groups accused of committing murders and persecuting the opposition in Venezuela.
“We are taking note of the talks in Norway. As we have said repeatedly, the United States believes that the only thing that can be negotiated with Nicolás Maduro is the conditions of his departure,” State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus told reporters.
At the negotiations, the Maduro regime is represented by the communication minister, Jorge Rodríguez, and the governor of the state of Miranda, Héctor Rodríguez. The opposition affirms that the ex-minister of the Government of Carlos Andrés Pérez, Fernando Martínez Mottola, and the ex-deputy Gerardo Blyde are in the Norwegian capital.
Negotiations Santos-FARC style
There is also a Norwegian team willing to mediate, which also occurred in the negotiations between the Santos Government and the FARC guerrillas in Colombia, and which resulted in impunity and the handing over of power to the aggressors. The conditions and location of such negotations have yet to be determined.
According to the Norwegian public radio station NRK, the contact “began in Cuba before and has continued for a long time.”
Unofficially it was learned that the Norwegian Dag Nylander is the man of confidence of Antonio Guterres, Secretary of the UN, who has not recognized Guaidó as president of Venezuela.
Nylander is a Norwegian diplomat who has shown an affinity with the Cuban regime, to the point that during the dialogues in Colombia he praised the dictatorship of the island. On that occasion he pointed out that Cuba endowed the dialogues with “great credibility.”
D’mar Córdoba Salamanca, a Colombian constitutional lawyer, told the PanAm Post that the announced negotiation between Chavismo and the opposition is not a good omen, since it is a matter of negotiating with leftist mediators biased in favor of Maduro and the Cuban dictatorship.
“I think the strategy will always be the same and that is to give oxygen and more opportunities for visibility to the narco-government of Nicolás Maduro, as they did with the FARC. The peace agreement in Colombia became a shield for the terrorists of the FARC and the same thing can happen with the dictatorship,” he added.
In January 2017, the Venezuelan opposition assured that it would no longer participate in negotiations if the regime did not comply with the commitments it had made; among them the release of political prisoners, the acceptance of humanitarian aid, and the presentation of an electoral calendar. However, the dictatorship did not comply, and despite this the opposition continued negotiating.
With the past attempts at negotiation, prisoners of conscience multiplied, the humanitarian crisis worsened, and the situations was exposed before the entire world. The more the opposition gave way, the more Chavismo was strengthened.
Between dialogues the opposition opted for a recall referendum that did not succeed, because it was dismantled unconstitutionally by the dictatorship. The same thing happened with a promised march to the presidential palace of Miraflores, however, the same opposition decided to postpone it under the excuse of a new attempt at dialogue with the participation of the Vatican. The dictatorship did not yield, the Vatican rose from the table and the opposition leadership was again humiliated.
After that, with the passage of months, the Venezuelan population angrily took to the streets, once again joined by the opposition leadership. After four months of demonstrations and the brutal repression that left more than 100 Venezuelans dead, the need arose for other, more radical alternatives.
From there, there was an attempted referendum, which the illegitimate Constituent Assembly rejected. Second, there would be conditions imposed on the military. Third, a mandate for the National Assembly with the formation of a government of national unity.
The will of the people never came to pass. The illegitimate Constituent Assembly remains in force and the military did not comply with the result of the referendum. Now it is feared that Guaidó is willing to negotiate with deplorable conditions, or that he will accept an unacceptable agreement, just as he was going to do on April 30, when knowledge of a dialogue came to light in which the illegitimate Supreme Court of Justice would remain in command of the judiciary despite having constantly violated the Constitution and human rights.