Venezuelan opposition skips dialogue session with government

Jesús "Chúo" Torrealba, Executive Secretary of Venezuela's opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), announced on 6 December 2016 the MUD will not attend the dialogue session with the Government planned for 6 December. According to Torrealba, the MUD's participation in the dialogue is contingent on the Government's fulfillment of agreements made in previous dialogue sessions (Panorama). The opposition will remain in contact only with dialogue facilitators from the Vatican and from the Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur) while waiting for a response from the Government. Torrealba added that once the Government follows through with its commitments, the opposition will return to the negotiation table (El Nacional).

Venezuelan opposition leaves dialogue process pending government action

Venezuela's opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) released a statement on 30 November 2016 announcing the MUD has left the dialogue process and will only return to the negotiation table once the government follows through with commitments made during previous talks. The MUD's statement also asserted that holding elections is the only solution that will allow Venezuela to resolve its current crisis (Efecto Cocuyo). MUD Executive Secretary Jesús Torrealba stated that if the government does not show clear signs of advancement in its commitments, the MUD will reevaluate its participation in the dialogue process (Tal Cual). The next round of talks is scheduled for 6 December. 

Venezuelan dialogue process stalled

Jesús Torrealba, leader of the Venezuelan opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), stated on 23 November 2016 that talks between the opposition and the government were frozen after the government refused to show up at negotiations on 22 November (Taul Caul). According to Efecto Cocuyo, the government did not attend two of the dialogue's technical commissions after the legislature passed an accord on 22 November. The accord denounced abuse of state power after the 18 November conviction of two of First Lady Cilia Flores' nephews in a conspiracy to traffic 1,760 pounds of cocaine into the United States. 

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro contradicted the MUD's statements on 27 November by asserting that he would not allow anyone to leave the negotiation table, committing to continue talks throughout 2017 and 2018 (Panorama). In response, Torrealba on 29 November said the government is showing extreme irresponsibility by following its criminal strategy of stalling the dialogue to gain time. Torrealba added that if the dialogue does not yield concrete results, the MUD will have to evaluate its participation in talks scheduled for 6 December. As both sides accuse each other of failing to comply with the dialogue process, it appears ever more likely that the talks could fizzle out just one month after the opposition and the government agreed to meet to resolve Venezuela's crisis.

Government and opposition agree on road map to resolve crisis in Venezuela

The Venezuelan government and the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) held talks on 11 and 12 November 2016 and agreed on a road map to resolve the country's political and economic crisis. The sides released a joint statement with five steps, including combating sabotage and boycotting in the economy and providing the country with food and medicine. The road map also includes naming two new rectors on the Consejo Nacional Electoral (CNE), resolving the situation of the unseated deputies from Amazonas state by holding new elections, and addressing the supreme court's declaration of contempt of law in the legislature. The parties also committed to prioritizing Venezuela's right to the Esequibo, an oil-rich territory disputed by Guyana, coexisting in peace, and inviting one governor representing each side to the discussion table (Globovisión). 

No announcements were made about holding national elections or feeing political prisoners, two key demands for the opposition. After presenting the joint declaration about the road map, MUD General Secretary Jesús Torrealba reiterated the previous agreements with the government, but added that detained persons would be liberated, and commented that in future meetings, the opposition would insist on the right to settle this situation with a popular vote (Tal Cual). Efecto Cocuyo noted analysts found the government imposed its perspective on the second round of talks, as shown in the avoidance of the term "political prisoners," the failure to mention new presidential elections, and acknowledging that the legislature is in contempt of the law. If Venezuelans conclude the MUD gave up too much in this dialogue session, the talks could lose their legitimacy just two weeks into the formal negotiation process. Both sides will next meet on 6 December.

Venezuelan government and opposition hold second round of talks

Representatives from the Venezuelan government, the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), the Vatican, and the Unión de Naciones Suramericanas (Unasur) are set to meet on 11 November 2016 in Caracas for a second round of dialogue. The MUD is coming back to the talks with a set of demands, including holding a recall referendum in 2016 or general elections in 2017, freeing political prisoners, recognizing the legislature's authority, electing new representatives for the Supreme Court and for the National Electoral Board, resolving the case of three unseated opposition deputies from Amazonas state, and accepting humanitarian aid (Globovisión). The government is demanding recognition for state institutions, regional elections in 2017, the establishment of a truth commission, and creating a consensus to address the economy (Globovisión). According to Panorama, a source close to the dialogue process stated no progress has yet been made on the working groups established during the first round of talks on 30 October.

Recall referendum suspension in Venezuela leads to Vatican mediation

After meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on 24 October 2016, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro agreed to hold a dialogue with the opposition, with mediation from the Vatican and Unasur. According to papal envoy Monsignor Emil Paul Tscheerig, the talks are to take place on Margarita Island, Venezuela, on 30 October, and preliminary discussions between the government and the opposition took place in Caracas on 24 October (Tal Cual). However, key members of Venezuela's opposition stated they were not consulted and will not attend negotiations with the government. Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles denied a dialogue has begun, and Asamblea Nacional (AN) President and head of the Acción Democrática party Henry Ramos Allup stated his party would not be present at the talks (Tal Cual).

The announcement of a dialogue followed an especially tumultuous few days in Venezuelan politics. The government's electoral authority halted the process to hold a recall referendum against Maduro on 21 October, leading to an emergency session in the AN on 23 October. Opposition legislators passed a resolution that declared a breakdown of constitutional order in the country and accused the government of mounting a coup d'état. The resolution was passed after a group of government supporters burst into the AN, forcing a temporary suspension of the legislative session (Panorama). On 24 October, hundreds of university students across Venezuela held protests against the suspension of the recall referendum, and the opposition called for a nationwide protest on 26 October (Tal Cual). It remains unclear whether the entirety of Venezuela's opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition will accept the dialogue in light of increasing frustration over the government's moves to quash the recall referendum.