What's Next for Venezuela and its Ongoing Political Crisis?

What's Next for Venezuela and its Ongoing Political Crisis?

Javier Manjarres
Javier Manjarres
May 3, 2023

Colombia’s new Leftist President Gustavo Petro, who in the past has expressed support for Venezuelan Dictator Nicolas Maduro, recently held a one-day summit seeking to find a way out of the country’s political crisis by getting the Maduro regime and the Venezuelan opposition back to the negotiating table in Mexico. Those talks have been stalled since the end of 2022.

Some 20 countries, including European Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all sent representatives to take part in the discussion.

Neither the Maduro regime nor the Venezuelan opposition were invited to participate in the summit, yet opposition leader Juan Guaidó, former Acting President of Venezuela, arrived in Colombia attempting to hold side meetings with some of the international delegates but was detained by President Petro’s foreign minister and taken to the Bogota’s El Dorado airport where he boarded a plane to Miami.

After the one-day summit in Bogota, the international delegates agreed to three main points that would lay the groundwork for addressing the country’s political crisis.  First, the establishment of a timetable and action plan to hold free presidential elections in 2024 and, as the Venezuelan government makes progress, U.S. sanctions should be lifted.

Third, that resuming the Mexico negotiations should be accompanied by accelerating the implementation of the Social Fund, to address the country’s humanitarian crisis.

Experts agree that, although the Summit’s conclusions were nothing new, they did offer concrete action steps validated by 20 countries that should follow up to ensure progress is made. “Next steps should focus on ensuring that Maduro is committed to the democratic process,” said Luis Fleishman, co-founder of the Palm Beach Center for Democracy & Policy Research, and professor of Social Sciences at Palm Beach College, “this requires creating a complex and detailed accountability system with the participation of international experts, NGOs, and other bodies capable of monitoring the process, particularly Maduro's behavior.”

Fleischman is emphatic about focusing the process on a path toward democracy. “The United States must be careful to make sure that this process is not about sanctions but about democracy,” he says.  As to the Venezuelan opposition and the 2024 presidential elections, Fleischman believes that “once there’s a winner in the primaries, the opposition should rally around that candidate regardless of disagreements.

The main objective should be restoring democracy to Venezuela, not [forwarding] specific social or economic policies, or personal ambitions. These discussions should take place only after a transition to democracy is accomplished.”

Although there has been criticism of the U.S.’ participation in the Summit, many voices claim that it’s in the U.S.’ best interest to have a seat at the table, “otherwise, the process would be left in the hands of Petro, Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez, Chile’s Gabriel Boric, Bolivia’s Luis Arce, Brazil’s Luis Inácio Lula da Silva, and Turkey’s Rucep Tayyip Erdogan .. not necessarily the most dependable partners,” adds Fleischman.

Rep. Cory Mills (R), who is considered a foreign policy expert in the House of Representatives and sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, contends that the U.S. should know what is going on at these Venezuela talks in hopes to understand what Russia and China are up to in these negotiations.

“Because of the growing threat that Russia and China pose to the U.S. and its allies in the Western Hemisphere, it is important that the U.S. take a limited part in, or have a seat at the table if offered, in any ongoing and future meetings between the Maduro regime and the democratic opposition in Venezuela in hopes to weaken Russia/ China influences and craft a meaningful and lasting democratic future for the Venezuelan people,” said Rep. Mills in a statement.

Democratic Reps. Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D) and Maxwell Frost (D) also believe that the U.S. should be involved in any future talks about Venezuela.

Rep. Frost, who is “generally” in support of “negotiating”, is keeping a close eye on any developments coming out of Venezuela.

“We have to take a part in it, because of the instability that we are seeing throughout South American, the Caribbean, and Latin America, and the influence of China and Russia is becoming too grand overall, so we have to be at the table, we have to be facilitating as much democracy as possible,”stated Rep. Cherfilus-McCormick.

At Florida International University's (FIU) Hemispheric Security Conference on Tuesday this week, General Laura Jane Richardson, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, agreed that China poses the greatest threat to the Hemisphere, stating in a video address: “We do not want this region to fall under China’s negative influence or militarization. We must strengthen democracy to face the challenges the region faces.”

But not all lawmakers are convinced that the U.S. should take part in ongoing talks between Maduro and the opposition party.

Because of his past criminal acts, Senators Marco Rubio and Rick Scott have been steadfast in their opposition to the Maduro regime, as has Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart (R) who, at the FIU Hemispheric Security Conference, deplored the U.S.’ “inconsistent policy” against the Hemisphere’s three dictatorships, Venezuela, Nicaragua and Cuba.

Rep. Greg Steube (R), believes that Maduro and the opposition party should work on their own to resolve Venezuela’s problems.

“I would prefer that we let them work it out in the hopes that they can come to a diplomatic, democratic, peaceful resolution, but that doesn’t seem to be the case that has been going on there. The Maduro regime is like communism on steroids, and operating as a dictatorship,” said Rep. Steube.

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Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres

Javier Manjarres is a nationally renowned award-winning political journalist and Publisher of Floridianpress.com, Hispolitica.com, shark-tank.com, and Texaspolitics.com He enjoys traveling, playing soccer, mixed martial arts, weight-lifting, swimming, and biking. Javier is also a political consultant and has also authored "BROWN PEOPLE," which is a book about Hispanic Politics. Follow on Twitter: @JavManjarres Email him at Diversenewmedia@gmail.com

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