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.

Three Venezuelan opposition legislators step down to advance dialogue

Three Venezuelan opposition legislators resigned on 15 November 2016 in accordance with an agreement made by the government and the opposition on 12 November. Nirma Guarulla and Julio Ygarza, Deputies from Amazonas state, and Romel Guzamana, an indigenous Representative from southern Venezuela, stepped down to end a dispute over their election on 6 December 2015 (Panorama). The Supreme Court had banned the Deputies from taking office in January 2016 due to allegations of voter fraud. However, the Asamblea Nacional (AN) swore the legislators in on 28 July, leading the Supreme Court to rule that the AN is in contempt of the law and any of the body's legislative decisions are null and void. 

The opposition's two-thirds supermajority hinged on the presence of the three deputies, as after their resignation, the opposition's ranks fell from 112 to 109 out of 167 deputies in the AN. As agreed in talks between the Government and the opposition on 12 November, the state must hold a new round of legislative elections. Powerful factions within the opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), such as the Voluntad Popular party, have strongly opposed holding new elections in Amazonas, arguing the MUD is conceding too much in the dialogue process (Efecto Cocuyo). The Deputies' resignation was designed to ease political tension between the Government and the opposition, at the cost of further dividing an already fractious MUD.

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.

Venezuelan opposition calls for nationwide strike to put pressure on Maduro

Venezuela's opposition coalition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) on 26 October 2016 announced a nationwide strike for 28 October to put pressure on the government to reactivate the recall referendum process against President Nicolás Maduro. MUD General Secretary Jesús Torrealba called for a twelve-hour general strike on 28 October, and stated the opposition will give the government until 30 October to resume the referendum process (Panorama). If the government does not respond, Asamblea Nacional (AN) President Henry Ramos Allup stated the opposition will march on the Miraflores presidential palace on 3 November to declare that Maduro has abandoned his post as president (La Patilla).