By Wang Zhen
According to media source, representatives of the Venezuelan government and the opposition traveled to Oslo, the Norwegian capital, for talks. As soon as the news was released, it attracted global attention as it would bring a glimmer of hope for the imminent crisis in the South American country. It was not the first time that the Venezuelan government and the opposition held talks, but this time, it seemed different.
First, this negotiation was a result of stalemate between the two parties after long-term “fierce” wrestling. The Nicolás Maduro administration’s ability to control the situation was improved after the failure of the “April 30 coup”. Nonetheless, the Venezuelan government is facing great challenges and an increasingly deteriorating political culture. Under such circumstances, it must find a solution to stabilize the situation and consolidate its foundation, while seeking reconciliation through negotiations is an option. Over the past four months since Juan Guaidó declared himself as the “interim president” of Venezuela, he has made a multitude of attempts to win power by relying on support from the U.S., but all were in vain. The “final offensives” he launched have also been proven useless. Facts have repeatedly proved that no one would win if this situation continued. Both parties need to sit down at the negotiating table without further wasting resources, for the sake of national economy and the livelihood of the people.
Second, this negotiation accorded with the will of the people. Cries of discontent have risen among Venezuelan people after years of political turbulence. Such discontent not only targets at the Maduro administration, but also increasingly towards the opposition and its leader Guaidó. Given the continued US “maximum pressure” and threatening to use “armed forces” to intervene in the Venezuelan crisis, Guaidó acted on the U.S. influence in the struggle for power, which undermined the national pride of the Venezuelan people and incurred grievances. At present, the overwhelming majority of the Venezuelan people called for “peace over chaos.” In the long run, this reflects an inevitable trend among the public. In this circumstance, both Maduro administration and the opposition try to play a lead role in “peace talks.” The Maduro administration already took the initiative as it has long called for reconciliation, and the opposition must take some actions in this regard to avoid passivity.
Third, this negotiation was partly attributed to the efforts of the international community. The pro-justice force of the international community including China has played a significant role in preventing the escalation of the Venezuelan crisis by opposing intervention and promoting peace through various channels and methods, which is an indispensable international factor that made the Oslo negotiation possible. Some media organizations noted in their reports that the “negotiation” happened to take place after U.S. Secretary of State Michael Richard Pompeo visited Russia, and the coincidence of opportunity was intriguing. Russia and the U.S. have taken opposite stances on the Venezuelan crisis, criticizing each other. Both have once taken some “major actions.” However, during the talks with Russia’s foreign minister, Pompeo said that the U.S. also opposes “external intervention” and advocates that the Venezuelan crisis should be “settled by the Venezuelan people themselves”, which seemed to have found common ground between Russia and the U.S. It was surprising that Pompeo would say so, nevertheless his words is worth pondering. Reading between the lines, perhaps Pompeo was merely trying to make pre-endorsement for the Oslo talks.
Considering the long-standing Venezuelan crisis, deeply-rooted contradictions between the government and the opposition and complicated international situation, there seems to be no easy solution to the problem. It would be hard for both parties to reach consensus at the talks, even harder to sign an agreement on the governance of Venezuela, or to put such an agreement into practice. Nevertheless, a talk remains better than no talks. The negotiation would at least relieve the tension, making it possible for the people to breathe a sigh of relief and focus on improvement of their living standards, and for the national divergence to be mended or at least not to expand any further. As the first step to peace, if the negotiation can stabilize the current situation, restore order on the streets and make ordinary people to live a “normal” life, it would be good news for the Venezuelan people. The international community and the Venezuelan people should work together to drive and urge parties involved in the talks to take into account the whole picture and spare no effort to strive for the interests of Venezuela and its people. Perhaps there will be twists and turns and even struggles in the process of negotiation, but everything will go well as long as it sticks to a positive direction.
(The author is a senior researcher at the China Foundation for International Studies and former Chinese Ambassador to Venezuela.)
Disclaimer: This article is originally published on Global Times, and is translated from Chinese into English and edited by the China Military Online. The information, ideas or opinions appearing in this article do not reflect the views of eng.chinamil.com.cn.