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What happened to the social agreement and the funds for Venezuela?

Image from EFE agency


On November 26, 2022, the second partial agreement between the Venezuelan government and the Unitary Platform of the Venezuelan opposition was signed in Mexico to unfreeze around 3 billion dollars abroad with the intention of creating a social fund to care for the most vulnerable population in Venezuela. The United Nations was designated as the administrator of these funds and the party responsible for the implementation of the agreement, which attributes guarantee duties to it.

Although a few months have passed since its signing, no one says that there are structural barriers that endanger the execution of said agreement. It is not about the barriers related to the processing of the necessary steps to obtain authorizations from foreign institutions and organizations that allow access to resources that will also be progressively released. In addition, the liberation involves different countries, and therefore, different financial sources, which imposes special levels of complexity on the UN, marking a unique structure for the UN to advance the management of this social response. This whole process takes time and is the object of a particular effort within the negotiation in Mexico.

It is not the challenges related to the enforcement or the temporality of the management that are under discussion. The structural barriers underlying the social agreement are three that have marked the failure of previous negotiation processes and that show signs of remaining upright within the expected social response. These barriers refer to the policy of secrecy, the exclusion of civil society from the process and the approval of ad hoc institutional threats (the anti-NGO bill). It is a formula that in no way allows will lead to good results.

There seems to be no political will to improve the quality of life of a population with humanitarian needs in a context where public information is denied, the participation of civil society is impeded, and new attacks take place against the very organizations that would be called upon to support the implementation of those funds. It is such an obvious contradiction that it has nothing to do with the delay in the process or similar bureaucratic arguments, but with the position of a government that arbitrarily uses arbitrary powers for other objectives.

Besides the government reproduces anti-democratic practices, it is the concern that the UN continues in the line of a submissive agent. The United Nations should be playing a discreet or public advocacy role with the government, but it is conspicuous by its absence. The UN Country Team should uphold a loud and clear voice against the anti-NGO law and request collaboration with the countries involved and the international community so that the implementation of the social agreement advances in accordance with human rights principles. Without a UN consistent with its role as guarantor, there is no way to make progress because it is good faith third party that is called upon to ensure the greatest possible neutrality in said agreement. It is worrying that its strategy of silent diplomacy, good for maintaining access quotas and bad for promoting structural changes, continues to abandon more victims in Venezuela.

Negotiations in Venezuela need to be guided by a radically different paradigm, mostly negotiations that aim to facilitate a social response. The actors must raise -or at least inform about- the existing barriers so that the population does not suffer more damage than it already receives because of years of accumulated inaction and negligence. Having the right to know what happened to the announced 3 billion dollars is just one step towards raising the importance of the matter and demanding it consistently is the only way to force responses to be mobilized. Given our vast experience, any path other than the one proposed is condemned to fail.

AlertaVenezuela calls on the United Nations, the countries facilitating the negotiation process in Mexico and the democratic community of States, to lead the follow-up mechanism and complementarity of efforts aimed at ensuring that the implementation of the social agreement continues or is resumed with the maximum priority, guaranteeing the principles of access to information, plural participation and generation of favorable institutional conditions.