Venezuela conditions dialogue with the opposition by plane in Argentina
(CNN Spanish) — The president of the National Assembly of Venezuela and head of the government delegation for negotiations in Mexico with the opposition, Jorge Rodríguez, made the dialogue with his counterpart conditional on the return of the Venezuelan-flagged plane held in Argentina.
During the debate on a draft agreement to reject the United States’ request to seize the aircraft stranded in Argentina, Rodríguez, one of the strongmen of the questioned Venezuelan government, described what happened with the state-owned Emtrasur plane and its crew as a kidnapping.
“So our sentence must also be very simple, very clear, and we are not going to move from there, neither in matters of dialogue, nor in matters of negotiation. Very simple, just as we said with the kidnapped Venezuelan diplomat Alex Saab,” said the official to the applause of the Chavista parliamentarians.
In addition, Rodríguez warned that if the plane is not returned they will take to “the streets and in all international spaces” to “fight until the aircraft is returned.”
On August 2, the US Department of Justice transmitted to the Argentine authorities a request to seize the Venezuelan plane, arguing that it was an asset transferred to the Venezuelan State by Mahan Air, a Venezuelan airline affiliated with the Armed Forces. Quds of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard, included by Washington in its list of terrorist organizations.
Rodríguez’s statements come on the same day that dozens of people close to the government protested in Caracas for the plane to be returned.
On Monday, both the questioned president Nicolás Maduro and the deputy Diosdado Cabello asked Argentina to return the plane that has been held in that country since June.
CNN has reached out to the Argentine government for comment on what Maduro said. The Press Department of the country’s Foreign Ministry responded that it was a case that was in the hands of the country’s Justice and that it could not comment on it.
Since the end of October, the political negotiation between the majority opposition and the government in Mexico has been suspended because Maduro’s delegation decided to leave the table after the extradition to the United States of Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman detained in Cape Verde and who has been singled out by countries like Colombia and the United States of being Maduro’s figurehead.
Saab has pleaded not guilty and his defense assures that his detention is illegal, since, according to his version, this citizen is a Venezuelan diplomat who is being prosecuted without taking into account his investiture.
Next August 13 marks one year since the signing of the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties in Mexico City
In mid-May, two senior officials from the Joe Biden administration told CNN they were evaluating easing some energy sanctions against Venezuela to favor the political discussions between the parties. They clarified that said measures would be tied to the progress or setbacks achieved at said negotiating table.