What is the cost for Venezuela of Maduro’s role in the negotiation with the ELN?

The governor Nicholas Maduro agreed to be guarantor in the negotiation that the Colombian government will initiate with the National Liberation Army (THE N). President Gustavo Petro asked him to assume this role in order to achieve the “total peace” that he promised during his campaign.

For the political scientist Enderson Sequera, the “great winner” of this announcement is Maduro “because if he is the guarantor of the negotiation, it is implicit that Petro is not going to raise his voice to denounce the human rights violations nor the lack of democracy in Venezuela.”

“The announcement is good news for the Colombian people if the negotiation works, but bad news for the Venezuelan people in the short term because it means the stabilization and consolidation of Maduro in power. It means that this voice, which could serve as a denunciation from the left, will lower the tone”, he affirms.

TWe recommend: Txomin Las Heras: Talks with the ELN will not be easy or quick #CocuyoClaroyRaspao

In his opinion, although it is difficult for Maduro to regain international legitimacy due to the irritating presidential elections of 2018, his strategy focuses on regain some prestige; in showing that it has great continental influence, so much so that it can be named as guarantor in a negotiation; and that he exercises real power in Venezuela.

The internationalist Gioavanna de Michele explained why the pacification of the border is convenient for Maduro: “For the reestablishment of a healthy and smooth business relationship Security guarantees are needed in the border spaces and there cannot be those guarantees while irregular groups such as the ELN continue to operate on that border.”

A binational objective is to create a special economic zone between Norte de Santander department and Táchira state.

The internationalist offered her statements on Chúo Torrealba’s program La Fuerza es la Unión, and pointed out that one of the great challenges will be to balance the trade balance so that it does not favor only Colombia, taking into account that the productive apparatus Venezuelan is very depressed.

Contacts with the ELN

The incorporation of Maduro as a mediator also confirms that his government maintains contacts with the ELN, according to Sequera.

“Petro appoints him because he knows that Maduro has a important relationship with the ELN and wants to recover the international prestige that the Chavista project once had, which was based on petrodiplomacy, so Petro gives him this opportunity to recover prestige and perhaps increase the probability of success in the negotiation,” he declares.

We recommend you: Padrino López confirms deaths of uniformed men in Apure and announces that they will intensify military operations

He maintains that “it is known that in Venezuelan territory are these irregular groups as the second marquetalia of the FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia) and the ELN, according to intelligence reports that indicate that the Venezuelan Army cooperates with them, that they are financed and protected”.

He adds that other reports mention that Maduro appears to have better relationship with the ELN that with the second marketing of the Farc, this would explain the clashes between members of the National Armed Forces and irregular groups that took place in Apure at the beginning of the year, according to the political scientist.

International organizations such as Human Rights Watch (HRW) denounce that the dissidents of the FARC and the ELN they dispute the control of the territory and the illicit activities in the Colombian department of Arauca and the state of Apure, on the Venezuelan side.

These clashes led to forced displacement of more than 3 thousand people in the border area, between January and March 2022, according to the HRW report.

“Multiple witnesses, displaced people, and humanitarian officials told Human Rights Watch that members of the Venezuelan security forces, particularly the FANB and GNB (Bolivarian National Guard), have carried out joint operations with guerrillas of the ELN and would have been complicit in their abuses,” according to the research that this international organization did.

Other crisis group report notes that Venezuelan authorities have relied on the ELN to tighten their control over border areas, suggesting that there may be high-level government backing for that group.

An impartial mediator?

Sequera warns that conditioning the success of the negotiations with the ELN on Maduro’s mediation “is a huge risk” because he is not an impartial mediator.It is not clear to me what Maduro can contribute in this negotiation because his interest is to maintain these irregular groups as a negotiating card that improves his international position,” he says.

“Is a very bold move by Peter, If it goes well, it could put itself on the verge of a new Nobel Peace Prize, but if it goes wrong, it could destroy the aspirations of its foreign policy, the prestige of its foreign policy and one of the most important proposals of its government, which is the issue of total peace”, he adds.

The relationship of these guerrilla groups with Venezuelan governments goes back a long way, points out political scientist Ricardo Sucre: “I don’t know if Venezuela is a sanctuary for the ELN as they say, but from a political point of view, of course, the Maduro government has contact with that group.

“The relations of these groups with Venezuela are, if you will, old, not only with Chavismo, but also with democratic governments. Iván Márquez was here when Carlos Andres Perez. The sword of (Simón) Bolívar that was talked about so much at Petro’s inauguration was recovered by Pérez (when the M-19 guerrillas stole it). Perhaps the difference with the governments of (Hugo) Chávez and Maduro is that they proselytized these relations”, he exposes.

The analyst considers that Maduro’s appointment as guarantor “is reasonable” considering that he seeks to continue the conversations that began in 2012, when Maduro was foreign minister and was closely acquainted with that process that was then mediated by Hugo Chavez.

Sucre emphasizes that there is a status quo and a sort of recognition the Chavista government by deeds when asked about the legitimacy that Maduro could gain by being the guarantor at this negotiation table. “Sand imposed a new world geopolitical reality, that does not mean that the governments of the world are going to give Maduro a hug, but they know that they have to understand him because he is the one in Miraflores, “he argues.

And Mexico?

Sucre does not believe that Maduro’s participation in the Colombian negotiating table be contradictory despite the fact that the Venezuelan ruler refuses to return to Mexico to re-establish talks with the Venezuelan opposition.

“It is a political move, Colombia and Venezuela have their state objectives and Mexico does not enter into those objectives,” he adds.

But Sequera does consider Maduro’s participation in this sense incoherent: “EIt is a quite marked contradiction, but it must be taken into account that Maduro accepts to be a guarantor because he wants to recover international prestige, it is clear that what really matters to him is his consolidation in power and he has no great interest in reaching political agreements in Mexico«.

We wish to give thanks to the author of this write-up for this incredible material

What is the cost for Venezuela of Maduro’s role in the negotiation with the ELN?