The Chancellor of Colombia, Alvaro Leyva, confirmed this Thursday (13) that the conference in favor of dialogues between the government and the Venezuelan opposition, proposed by his country, will take place in Bogota on the 25th of April.
However, according to the Colombian minister, government and Venezuelan opposition delegations will not participate in this first meeting. The meeting, said Leyva, will be attended by another 15 countries, including Europeans and Latin Americans.
“[A oposição] would not participate, they are different stages. Furthermore, for the first call, countries other than Venezuela would participate, which are concerned about the situation. Venezuela would not participate,” he told the press after attending a UN Security Council meeting in New York.
Still according to the chancellor, the presence of the United States is confirmed, although the country has not announced who will represent it.
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The proposal for the meeting was made by the Colombian government on March 28 with the objective of “reopening paths and building an agenda to stimulate and support dialogue between the Venezuelan opposition, civil society of this country and the government of Venezuela”.
In the meetings between the Venezuelan government and the opposition at the Mesa de Diálogo Nacional in Mexico, which began in September 2021 with the mediation of the Mexican and Norwegian governments, the main demand from Caracas is the end of sanctions and the release of resources and assets blocked by the US to opposition request. The opposing delegation demands the definition of an electoral schedule, with rules for the next presidential election.
Negotiations, however, have been frozen since November 2022. The interruption occurred after Caracas denounced that the opposition delegation had still not complied with an agreement signed by both parties that provided for the release of more than US$ 3 billion belonging to the Venezuelan State and who were blocked abroad because of US sanctions requested by the opposition.
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This Thursday, Leyva said he hopes that the meeting in Bogota will serve to talk about “the restart of dialogue in Mexico, so that we can reach presidential elections in 2024”.
“For that, it is necessary to set aside some sanctions that exist and proceed with what was discussed in the social dialogue. It is important that the elections can take place with guarantees for all parties, real guarantees, […] and that the elections are recognized by the whole world”, he said.
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According to Bogotá, the conference to be held on April 25 is not intended to replace the negotiating tables in Mexico. On the contrary, it aims to unlock points for delegations to resume conversations.
With the measure, the government of Colombian President Gustavo Petro becomes even more involved in the attempt to mediate the internal disputes in the neighboring country. In November last year, the president had already participated in a meeting in Paris, France, which was attended by the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and Argentine president, Alberto Fernández, in addition to representatives of the Venezuelan government, Jorge Rodríguez, and the opposition, Gerardo Blyde.
Editing: Nicolau Soares