17 Venezuela Opposition Parties Accept Government Invitation to Discuss Constituent Process*
Jaua expressed disappointment at MUD’s refusal to participate in the dialogues and called on their leaders to “think” in the name of “peace.”
Seventeen Venezuelan opposition parties met with the government to discuss the national constituent assembly invoked by President Nicolas Maduro one week ago, although right-wing parties in the MUD coalition are still refusing to sit with the government.
The president of the committee created by Maduro to oversee the implementation of the constituent assembly process, Elías Jaua, thanked the groups for accepting the invitation and highlighted that this was the first time that the government could open dialogue with opposition parties that do not belong to the Democratic Unity Roundtable, known by its Spanish initials as MUD.
“What matters here is not that we reach an agreement, nor that we change anyone’s mind, but that we listen and enrich the debate,” he said.
Segundo Melendez of the Movement to Socialism said that the party would continue participating “in all the spaces we can be heard.”
The MUD coalition said Sunday it would not participate in the national constituent assembly, calling the process a “fraud.”
“(The process) is not constituent, we could hardly go to an absolutely fraudulent process, we Venezuelans will not be part of a fraud,” former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles said.
In a letter addressed to Jaua, the MUD argued that the constituent assembly should be invoked via a popular referendum, not by the government.
President Maduro invoked article 347 of the Bolivarian Constitution, which allows for the convening of a national constituent assembly with the purpose of “transforming the state,” adding that the process would facilitate a dialogue with the opposition and broad sectors of society with the goal of easing the ongoing political tensions.
Despite previously calling for a constituent assembly, the opposition has rejected the call and set off a fresh wave of protests which have led to the deaths of some three dozen people in just over a month.
Jaua expressed disappointment at the refusal of MUD politicians to participate in the dialogues and called on their leaders to “think” in the name of “peace.”
“So they could sit here and talk, among Venezuelans as the sisters and brothers that we are — we have deep differences but we must leave to our daughters and sons a peaceful Venezuela, and the only way is dialogue.”
The doors of Miraflores will remain open for all the parties that wish to understand why Maduro took the initiative of creating a constituent assembly, Jaua added.
The MUD’s position against the constituent assembly represents a radical shift since 2013 when 55 opposition leaders signed a joint statement demanding a constituent assembly in order “to change a regime that has lost legitimacy.”
The opposition parties who accepted the invitation to dialogue included Red Flag, Young Party, Citizenship Movement, Mopivene Movement, Republican Democracy, Republican Movement, Labor Power, Civilian Resistance, Renewable Democracy, Ecological Movement and the Stone Party.