Venezuela: Spain urges Maduro regime to resume dialogue with opposition | International

Spanish Foreign Minister José Manuel Albares, left, welcomes his Venezuelan counterpart, Félix Plasencia, to Santo Domingo.Twitter

The Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs, José Manuel Albares, met this Friday in Santo Domingo with the Venezuelan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Félix Plasencia, with whom he had a “frank and sincere” dialogue. as the latter said on Twitter. The meeting (the first since Plasencia replaced Jorge Arreaza last August) took place ahead of the meeting that foreign officials from 22 Ibero-American countries are holding in Santo Domingo to elect Rebeca Grynspan’s replacement at the head. of their Secretary General.

Much of the conversation revolved around the controversial local and regional elections held last Sunday in Venezuela, in which Maduro’s regime candidates won 20 of the 23 governorates and 205 of the 335 mayors at stake, amid ‘a strong abstention. The EU observation mission has not yet published its final opinion, but in its provisional findings it gave one lime and another sand, acknowledging that “electoral conditions have improved compared to three previous national elections ”, but warning that“ structural deficiencies persist ”, such as the arbitrary disqualification of opposition candidates, the misuse of state resources in favor of the ruling party, unequal access to the media and the lack of judicial independence. It was the first time that opposition parties took part in the Venezuelan elections since 2018 and that the EU had sent an observation mission for three decades. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has already certified that the elections “were neither free nor fair”.

Albares called on his Venezuelan counterpart to put an end to the practices denounced by the EU mission and to resume as soon as possible the negotiations with the opposition that were taking place in Mexico and were suspended last October, in order to ensure that the next presidential elections, unlike those of last Sunday, to be “fully free and competitive”, according to diplomatic sources. The Venezuelan foreign ministry had previously been “disappointed” by the “value judgments” made by the Spanish foreign ministry in a note in which it warned that the local elections had not met “democratic expectations”.

Albares also met the Foreign Ministers of Cuba (Bruno Rodríguez), Guatemala (Pedro Brolo), Peru (Óscar Maúrtua), Ecuador (Mauricio Montalvo) and the Dominican Republic (Roberto lvarez), the latter in his capacity as host. The Santo Domingo meeting brought together 13 foreign ministers from 22 Ibero-American countries: 19 Americans plus Spain, Portugal and Andorra. Some unusual even attended these meetings, like the Cuban.

The succession of Rebeca Grynspan, appointed secretary-general of UNCTAD (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development), has sparked unusual interest in an organization that many Latin American countries routinely despise. Four candidates were presented to the General Secretariat: the Foreign Ministers of Guatemala (Brolo), Chile (Andrés Allamand), the former Peruvian Minister José Antonio García Balaúnde and the former Ecuadorian Vice-President Rosalía Arteaga.

The latter is the one with the most possibilities, because of his Andean condition (the two first general secretaries of the Segib were a Uruguayan, Enrique Iglesias, and a Costa Rican, Grynspan) and because he arouses less rejection than the ministers of Foreign Affairs in office. . The countries of the Ibero-American community elect their secretary general by consensus, so, in the words of a diplomat, “the important thing is not to have a lot of votes, but not to have a veto”. It is not, however, certain that today’s meeting will create white smoke. Otherwise, an agreement should be reached before November 2022, the date scheduled for the summit of Ibero-American heads of state and government in Santo Domingo, to prevent it from ending up focusing on the election of the new secretary. general and leaving aside the questions that are of much greater interest to societies where, as the Dominican Minister of Foreign Affairs has warned, support for democracy is declining: from 63% to 49% over the last decade, according to the Latinobarometer.

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