Some analysts and UN officials have tried to justify the lack of political initiative of the UN Secretary General (SG), Antonio Guterres, in the case of Venezuela, alleging that his intervention should be seen as the “last resort”. Considering that Venezuela has gone through various attempts to overcome the political crisis, including Rodríguez Zapatero in 2014 and 2017, Unasur, the Dominican Republic, Barbados, the Vatican, the OAS, the Lima Group, the Contact Group and Mexico, it is pertinent to ask what more must happen for the SG to consider that the time has come for that last resort?
Other analysts affirm that Venezuela is a friend of Russia and China, and Guterres will not do anything that the Russians and Chinese do not like, for fear of failing, which would continue to leave Venezuela off the political radar of the UN. In fact, the only mandate in the political sphere that the Secretariat has received through the Department of Political and Peacebuilding Affairs (DPPA), has been that of the panel of electoral experts for the elections of governors and mayors in November 2021. Due to its nature, the panel prepares a confidential report, so the impact of this initiative as an element of pressure to improve the conditions in which electoral processes are carried out is very limited.
For some, the country would be entering a stage of the transformation of the conflict, towards a new state order, having laid the foundations for this through the economic transition and the movement towards a one-party political scheme. This is a context in which it could be valuable to consider the figure of a special envoy, who facilitates spaces from a perspective more oriented to the collective good than to the small negotiation of power quotas.
In any case, it is necessary to explore other options for responding to the political crisis in the country, with a view to a possible electoral scenario in 2024. The arrival of Gustavo Petro to the presidency of Colombia may be an opportunity to reconfigure the political board from less polarized positions, with an agenda that includes not only the reestablishment of diplomatic and consular relations, but also the guarantee of the exercise of political rights for Venezuelans abroad, the expansion of the group of friends for the reactivation of a negotiating table with the incorporation of Chile and Colombia, and the decisive involvement of the UN, by offering a special envoy, with the support of the group of friends.
One element against this idea is that, although in the abstract the figure of the special envoy may seem like an option, the SG will not intervene if the parties are not interested, with which we return to the starting point: the fear of failure as curb a more proactive attitude of Guterres in the conflict in Venezuela. Paradoxically, Guterres has not acted in Venezuela for fear of failing and this could become his biggest failure in the country.
The international community should try to persuade the SG to assume a proactive attitude in the Venezuelan case. Trying it would already be a success.