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Venezuelan government and opposition close negotiation without agreement, but set new date

Ⓒ afp/AFP – Erika SANTELICES – | General view of the meeting held between representatives of the government of Venezuela and the opposition, on December 2, 2017 in Santo Domingo

The government of Nicolás Maduro and the opposition closed two days of negotiations in the Dominican Republic on Saturday without agreements to alleviate the Venezuelan crisis, although they reported “significant advances” and set a new date for December 15.

“Government and opposition declare that significant progress has been made (…) Next December 15 we will hold a new negotiation meeting, here in Santo Domingo, with the aim of reaching a definitive agreement,” the parties said in a statement. read by the Dominican president, Danilo Medina.

The text highlighted the “firm will” to bring positions in the dialogues that accompany Chile, Mexico, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as well as the former head of the Spanish government José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero.

Ⓒ afp/AFP – Erika SANTELICES – | Image of the chief negotiator of the MUD, Julio Borges, president of the opposition majority Parliament, in the Dominican Republic, on December 1, 2017

“We are very close to an agreement,” said the main Chavismo negotiator, Jorge Rodríguez, without mentioning the aspects on which there would be consensus.

The official ratified Maduro’s demand to “cease” what he called “a savage sabotage of the Venezuelan economy and finances.”

He said it was a “boycott” encouraged by the opposition and the United States, which prohibited its citizens and companies from negotiating new debt of the country and its state oil company PDVSA.

On the other hand, Julio Borges, president of the Parliament and head of the opposition delegation, trusted that in the next meeting “a clear path can be achieved (…) so that each Venezuelan is the one who decides the future in a free, clear elections. , transparent, with guarantees. ”

The opposition coalition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) considers a “humanitarian channel” to be a priority for the entry of basic foods and medicines, in severe shortages, and to establish clear conditions for the 2018 presidential elections.

But in Caracas the Health Minister, Luis Lopez, ruled out on Saturday the possibility of channels for the entry of drugs. “The town is being attended by Nicolás Maduro,” he said.

– Medicines in the debate –

Francisco Valencia, president of the Venezuelan human rights NGO Codevida, asked in Santo Domingo for an “immediate solution” for the shortage of drugs, which -he maintains- reaches 95%.

According to Codevida, some four million Venezuelans with chronic conditions such as cancer or hypertension are affected.

“I do not get my medication six months ago!” Shouted Valencia, who has a kidney transplant, during Rodriguez’s appearance.

“We do have problems, but do not have the slightest doubt that we will solve it,” replied the Maduro delegate.

The MUD also demands the release of some 300 “political prisoners”.

Colette Capriles, member of a team of MUD advisers for the negotiation that includes businessmen, trade unionists and experts in economic and social matters, said that “a framework was reached” of “internationally supported proposals that each party should discuss internally”. face the next encounter.

– “Collaboration” –

Maduro took advantage on Friday to highlight the divisions in the opposition alliance around the dialogue, to thank the “collaborationist spirit” of the leaders present at the table. Some sectors consider the contacts as “a trick” of the president.

“We leave satisfied (…) with the attitude of collaboration of the opposition,” insisted Rodríguez this Saturday.

The parties resumed negotiations after frustrated approaches between 2014 and 2017 for accusations of breach of commitments.

The contacts come when Maduro tries to refinance the external debt, estimated at around 150,000 million dollars, for which it requires the endorsement of the Legislative, of an opposition majority but bound by justice, which declared him in contempt and considers his decisions null and void.

Due to late payments of debt bonds, Venezuela and PDVSA were recently declared in partial default by a group of creditors and risk rating agencies.

This, in the midst of a crusade against corruption in the oil industry, source of 96% of the country’s income, which led to the capture this week of two high Chavez leaders who were Oil Ministers and PDVSA presidents.

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