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Four fictions of the ruling party and how to dismantle them (II)

In the previous issue, the fictions of “Venezuela is fixed” and “Venezuela cooperates” were treated, adding measuring sticks to help determining the political will of the government. In this edition, the same will be done with the last two fictions that make up the current propaganda narrative of the government: “sanctions as guilty” and “willingness to dialogue”. Sanctions as guilty of the crisis Sanctions have become a recurring justification for all current problems; however, behind it conveniently hides a series of economic and social decisions that have been the basis of a crisis that pre-existed the sanctioning measures. The explosion of the health and food crisis (first quarter of 2014) is much earlier than the first financial sanctions of August 2017 and the more far-reaching economic and oil sanctions of November 2018. While the sanctions came later and exacerbated an economic cycle with a very marked recessive trend, especially to the detriment of the most vulnerable groups The Venezuelan State, far from trying to mitigate the effects of the sanctions on the population, has deliberately fueled their consequences in order to maintain social control. Thus, the State continues to write off the debt of the Caribbean countries, restricting humanitarian aid in the country and maintaining a policy of free imports -encompassing basic food, fancy groceries and luxury cars alike- that is not consistent with the victimizing discourse of the blockade. At the center of the Venezuelan crisis is a phenomenon of structural corruption. The Venezuelan State has made no effort to investigate corruption and its evolution during the last two decades, the allocation of public spending for repressive purposes and other purposes, the persecution of the productive sector or the imposition of illegitimate controls, all of which has been gestated with the most absolute opacity and lack of transparency of public management. The crisis stems from, and is reproduced in, the absence of democracy and the rule of law in the country. A yardstick to measure whether measures are being taken to get out of the crisis -or perpetuate it- should include: refrain from sanctioning a cooperation law that ends cooperation; establish conditions for the lifting of generic sanctions, such as accountability, transparency in the management of resources and access to information, cessation of the conditioning of social aid by control mechanisms such as the “carnet de la patria”, substitution of populist missions for strong public policies in the social area, removal of barriers to humanitarian work and defense of human rights, among other objective conditions. In short, lift the sanctions and conditionalities that the government itself has imposed on the population. Willingness to dialogue The government has appeared to show openness to political dialogue through continuous calls for dialogue to the opposition, including the proposal to resume talks in Mexico. However, the government’s talks -misnamed “negotiations”- have resulted in the opposition making concessions for nothing. There are no mutual concessions between equals, but the reinforcement of power asymmetries in favor of the government. There is no disposition to political openness in the context of practices of concentration of power that are reflected in events such as the fraud in the mega-elections of November 2021, the renewal of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and the Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ) now more aligned with the ruling party, the continuation of the existence of political prisoners, other arbitrary detentions and ill-treatment in general, with milestones of persecution as symbolized by the human rights defenders cases of Azul Positivo and Fundaredes, as well as by systematic attacks on freedom of peaceful expression, association and assembly A yardstick to measure whether the government shows a willingness to engage in political dialogue -or to consolidate its power- is to generate solid guarantees for free and authentic elections, which includes allowing the opposition to compete in the electoral arena in conditions of autonomy and equality and ensure an independent Electoral Council and Judiciary, incorporating a litmus test: to update the electoral registry and the vote of Venezuelans abroad. Political dialogue also requires reversing all measures to close civic space and release all political prisoners. The ruling party can do whatever it wants, to a greater or lesser degree, in different areas and forms, parallel or staggered, because it has the power to do so. But the population cannot be convinced with crumbs, nor the international community with more broken promises. One cannot be ally of these fictions of “sanctions as guilty” and “willingness to dialogue” by asking for less than necessary and granting more than is due. Civil society, beginning with the human rights movement, must carefully monitor how these fictions manifest themselves, be faithful controllers, and strategically demand genuine improvements in the country.

The US announced the lifting of some sanctions to pave the way and resume dialogue in Mexico; there were no concessions to the opposition by chavismo.