Macron is trying to restart the Venezuelan political dialogue

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Paris (AFP) – Emmanuel Macron should try to restart the stalled dialogue between Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s camp and his opponents on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Forum on Friday in order to break Venezuela’s political impasse.

The French president said while receiving his Argentinian counterpart Alberto Fernandez at the Elysee on Thursday: “Negotiations between the regime and the opposition should be resumed as soon as possible in Mexico City, first with a humanitarian agreement and then, I hope, with political guarantees”, “ceremonial” thanks for his role “in this direction”. did

“We will do everything we can to support this initiative, this peace work,” he said.

Emmanuel Macron, Alberto Fernandez and Colombian President Gustavo Petro are due to attend together on Friday afternoon a meeting on the Venezuelan crisis that could be the highlight of the fifth edition of the Paris Peace Forum.

The goal: to push the Maduro camp and the Venezuelan opposition to restart the Mexican process, a round of talks that has stalled for a year. This includes agreeing on the terms of organizing the next presidential elections, which are theoretically planned for 2024.

French President Emmanuel Macron (R) welcomes his Argentine counterpart Alberto Fernandez at the Elysee Palace on November 10, 2022 in Paris Ludovic MARIN AFP

On this occasion, the main negotiators of each camp will be in the capital of Paris. Nicolás Maduro sent the president of the National Assembly, Jorge Rodríguez, and the opposition, his representative, Gerardo Blyde.

Macron-Maduro exchange

“The president of France, the president of Colombia, the president of Argentina will start this dialogue today,” Pascal Lamy, who chairs the Peace Forum, told AFP.

He said these emissaries of the two camps, so far irreconcilable, “will talk to each other and hopefully agree on a method and a way forward.”

Colombian President Gustavo Petro at the opening of the Paris Peace Forum in Paris on November 11, 2022
Colombian President Gustavo Petro at the opening of the Paris Peace Forum in Paris on November 11, 2022 STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN AFP

Mr. Lami tried to fulfill the expectations by recalling that the relationship between them was “extremely sharp, tense, difficult”. Therefore, we cannot say what this dialogue will yield, “it depends on the instructions of each side”, he warned.

In any case, Emmanuel Macron’s attempt at mediation is part of the context of a relative international thaw over Caracas’ power.

France, like the United States and countless other countries, did not recognize Nicolas Maduro’s re-election as president of the South American country in 2018 in what they saw as a rigged vote. And in the process, they supported opposition leader Juan Guaido when he declared himself interim president in early 2019.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido during a press conference in Caracas on September 16, 2022.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido during a press conference in Caracas on September 16, 2022. Federico PARRA AFP/Archive

But multiple US-European sanctions, including Washington’s oil embargo, to force the socialist leader to leave have not worked as expected, and Juan Guaido’s political weight has since waned.

Although President Maduro is still considered illegitimate, the United States reopened the dialogue channel with Caracas and eased some of the sanctions in May.

In the midst of an energy crisis caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine, the US government of Joe Biden has made no secret that Venezuelan hydrocarbons could be useful on the international market.

Emmanuel Macron, he had a brief exchange with Nicolás Maduro on the climate in Egypt in the corridors of COP27 on Monday.

French President Emmanuel Macron (d) and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro at COP 27 on November 7, 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt
French President Emmanuel Macron (d) and his Venezuelan counterpart Nicolas Maduro at COP 27 on November 7, 2022 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt Venezuelan Presidency/AFP/Archive

Calling him “president”, the French head of state promises to recall him to “talk more widely” and “engage in bilateral affairs beneficial to the region”, according to AFP footage.

The Elysée then clarified that Paris still does not recognize him as Venezuela’s head of state, but is showing pragmatism. “We are trying to create a dynamic”, “it is with Nicolás Maduro and his regime that we need to dialogue and we will try to push for the resumption of negotiations to lead to “fair and transparent elections”.

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