Caracas, April 25, 2023 (OrinocoTribune.com)—After an elaborate speech on Latin American cooperation and the project of unity of Simón Bolívar, the Liberator, the president of Colombia, Gustavo Petro, said that the International Conference on the Political Process in Venezuela “generates many expectations… Both countries [Venezuela and Colombia] depend on the fate of the other.” Petro’s statements were issued in his opening speech at the International Conference on Venezuela earlier today in the capital of Colombia, Bogotá.
“I think that part of today’s work has to do with defining if we are going towards love or if we are going towards war,” said Petro in his speech from the San Carlos Palace, headquarters of the Colombian Foreign Service, this Tuesday, April 25.
President Petro reiterated that Venezuelan society does not want to be sanctioned, “because the sanctions have fallen on [ordinary] people… We have seen it here in the streets of Colombia… America cannot be a space for sanctions, it has to be a space of liberties.”
Venezuela’s Far-Right Unitary Platform Supports Petro’s International Conference on Venezuela
Among the most high-profile attendees were the president of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves; the foreign ministers of Argentina, Chile, and Bolivia—Santiago Cafiero, Alberto van Klaveren, and Rogelio Mayta, respectively—the special advisor on foreign affairs for Brazilian president Lula, Celso Amorim; and the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell.
For the United States and representing the White House, President Biden’s adviser for Latin America, Juan González, participated. He will be accompanied by the special presidential adviser for the Americas, former Senator Chris Dodd, and main deputy adviser for National Security, Jon Finer.
Instalación de la Conferencia Internacional sobre el proceso político en Venezuela https://t.co/rlo3qVuiB6
— Cancillería Colombia (@CancilleriaCol) April 25, 2023
Latin American democracy
The Colombian president provided an overview of the democratic processes in Latin America, expressing his opinion that “it could be deeper, richer, [and] more multicolored than those that have been produced in Europe and the United States, if we could understand ourselves.” Petro encouraged Latin American politicians to choose peace and not confrontation.
“What happens in several Latin American countries… What has happened years ago in Bolivia, Brazil, Honduras, Paraguay, can mark a path towards war,” said Petro, adding that in Peru, Indigenous leaders are dying in the streets under the de facto rule of Dina Boluarte, leader of the coup regime.
He stated that the region must “rebuild the path towards peace, democracy, and national reconciliation… We must move towards the democratic reconstruction of all of Latin America.”
US to Send High-Level Delegation to International Conference on Venezuela in Colombia
The Colombian head of state said that the conference should “establish the schedule of the elections and their guarantees so that Venezuelans can decide freely and sovereignly what they want without pressure… The other issue is the lifting of sanctions… Hopefully everything would start with the re-entry of Venezuela into the Inter-American Human Rights System.”
It is important to highlight that this Monday, the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, established as a non-negotiable condition for the administration’s return to dialogue with the opposition “the demand that the US government deposit the $3.2 billion illegally frozen by the US government in bank accounts of Venezuela abroad.”
The Venezuelan president recalled that on November 26, 2022, within the framework of the Mexico Talks, Venezuela signed an agreement for $3.2 billion for social investment, from assets that were to be unfrozen by the White House. So far, after almost five months, the Unitary Platform and the US government have not complied with this commitment.
Declaración sobre la Conferencia Internacional sobre el proceso político en Venezuela https://t.co/kfGHnHQHvu
— Cancillería Colombia (@CancilleriaCol) April 25, 2023
At the end of the meeting, held behind closed doors, the Colombian Minister for Foreign Affairs Alvaro Leyva read a statement with the common positions reached by the international delegates. No open questions were permitted.
Those common positions are the following:
1- The need to define an electoral schedule that allows free and transparent elections with guarantees for all Venezuelans. On this issue, there was agreement on taking into consideration the recommendations of the European Union electoral observation mission prepared after the 2021 Venezuelan Parliamentary Election.
2- The necessity that the steps taken by both parties within the Mexico Talks move in parallel with the lifting of illegal US and European sanctions.
3- The resumption of the Mexico Talks should be accompanied by the fast-track release of the funds for the Fiduciary Found for Social Investment for Venezuela, as agreed on November 26, 2022.
4- Representatives of a group of participating countries will inform President Nicolas Maduro and the Venezuelan political parties and civil society about the results of the conference for their evaluation and comments.
4- A new meeting is scheduled to be organized soon with the same participating delegations, in order to follow up on the agreements reached in this first meeting.
Regarding the illegally frozen bank accounts and money belonging to the Venezuelan people, President Nicolás Maduro, this Monday night during his television show Con Maduro+, sent a clear message to the representatives of the 20 countries that met: “In the official communiqué that you approve, demand that the government of the United States of America deposit the illegally frozen $3.2 billion in bank accounts abroad for the social plan agreed in Mexico last month of November.”
“Simple,” said Maduro. “Once they deposit [the funds], we go to Mexico again. An indispensable requirement. If there is no compliance with the agreements reached in Mexico, forget about that path, forget it. We are talking about justice,” asserted the Venezuelan head of state, indirectly referring to a very basic principle of international affairs that is pacta sum servanda, meaning that agreements reached by parties in a negotiation must be observed or respected.
Orinoco Tribune Special by staff
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