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Maduro rehearses the mirage of a ‘perestroika’ | International

Nicolás Maduro during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the return to power of Hugo Chávez to power.
Nicolás Maduro during the celebration of the 20th anniversary of the return to power of Hugo Chávez to power.LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA (REUTERS)

A few days ago, in an unusual gesture, Nicolás Maduro received representatives of the Civic Forum at the Miraflores Palace, a platform of Venezuelan opposition organizations that included important members of civil society who questioned him. At the meeting, his representatives, human rights activists, academics, trade unionists, and businessmen, all from the moderate line, made requests for the institutional recomposition of the country. These included proposals for the appointment of the new Supreme Court of Justice and claims about the multiple disorders of the republican mechanisms of the nation.

Accompanied by his wife, Cilia Flores, and Jorge Rodríguez, president of the National Assembly, Nicolás Maduro took note of the observations. “We have decided to reactivate the national dialogue with all political, cultural, and social sectors. The dialogue in Mexico received a heavy blow, but if we are asking for dialogue for the world we have to set an example. We are going to a broader and more inclusive dialogue in the country,” Maduro said.

For April 21, the Government is preparing to install the Social Dialogue Forum, with the presence of members of the International Labor Organization, an exchange table with unions and businessmen close to their cause, as well as members of the Fedecamaras business association. , traditional black beast of the Chavista narrative.

A man holds an image of Maduro during an event in Caracas.
A man holds an image of Maduro during an event in Caracas.LEONARDO FERNANDEZ VILORIA (REUTERS)

Besieged from all fronts for about three years, unknown to an important part of Venezuelan society for many months, internationally sanctioned, Maduro begins an offensive to advance a political opening —which is also economic— that will allow him to regain authority before his adversaries and conjure up definitely the attempts to remove him from power.

While he does so, Maduro has before him a dispersed and weakened opposition political front, with almost irreconcilable differences between its factions and its authority damaged in the face of its militancy. In this embroidery, Maduro seems to be trying to put political limits on the existence of his opponents, and continues to fill Juan Guaidó’s file, periodically threatening to take him to jail along with his “accomplices of him.”

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The “deadlock” in which the negotiations with the opposition in Mexico find themselves after the capture of businessman Alex Saab has allowed Miraflores to open conversations with diverse social sectors in order to decompress the discourse that besieges it and further weaken plus the influence of opposition parties, in a context of economic recovery and before a society thirsty for solutions. Meanwhile, the Democratic Administration of Joe Biden abandons the intransigent tone of his predecessors towards Venezuela.

The Chavista regime has allowed the establishment of an Office of the International Criminal Court in Caracas — instance in which the Maduro administration is being investigated for accusations of Crimes Against Humanity — and has continued talks with US authorities to seek the granting of licenses in the Venezuelan oil fields.

Meanwhile, relations with the employers’ association Fedecamaras are at a particularly optimal moment, with mutual recommendations and parameters of coexistence agreed upon. The business community has taken advantage of the ditch to make the brothers Jorge and Delcy Rodríguez, two of the Chavista leaders who command this strategy, see the inconvenience of Maduro’s constant changes of tone with capital and the potential difficulties in increasing private investment. in the country without legal certainty.

The decision on the return of expropriated assets to the private sector will tend to deepen. A high-ranking Chavismo official, aware of the internal resistance to the measure, commented in a private conversation that “if it were up to me, I would return all the companies.”

A man walks through the streets of Caracas.
A man walks through the streets of Caracas.YURI CORTEZ (AFP)

for Jesus chuo González, a political scientist at the Central University of Venezuela, the measure of Chavismo expresses a failure. “There is a shift, an economic transition underway, because the traditional mechanisms of the Bolivarian revolution have collapsed in its relationship with the country as of 2018. This policy fills a void. After refusing to do so, the madurismo has carried out a bloody economic adjustment. In addition, the expectations of change promoted by Juan Guaidó have been frustrated and things have changed. We have to reinterpret this reality.” For González, all existing political paths lead to a hypothetical electoral consultation in 2024.

Opinion surveys show that the population seems focused on improving their daily economic life as a priority and is disinterested in politics. The agroindustrial entrepreneurs most at odds with the Government have heeded the call for the return of properties.

“Opening up politically is a necessity for the Maduro government,” says political analyst and electoral expert Andrés Caleca. “Maduro seeks to consolidate the divisions on the opposition front. Some opponents have been bought with corruption; most have been fiercely repressed and politically disqualified, with others you can try to understand yourself by offering options.”

Caleca does not rule out that this entire operation is temporary and that Maduro is perfectly capable of returning to Chavista orthodoxy in his nationalization and expropriation procedures if he manages to retain power beyond 2024. “I think that in this attempt at opening he may be counting the opinion of Cilia Flores, his wife, who appears little but is a fundamental figure in the government, and in the Armed Forces, who constantly make political evaluations of what is happening.”

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