Imaginary Dialogues: Reporting From Venezuela by Paul Esqueda

April 16, 2014


While I am at the beach, my good friend Paul Esqueda sends me this imaginary dialogue in Bogota…Enjoy!

Imaginary Dialogues: reporting from Venezuela

Paul Esqueda[1]

Maria Angela returns to Bogota after a few hectic days, in the Presidential Palace, in Caracas serving as a facilitator of the Dialogue between Maduro’s Government and the Roundtable for Democratic Unity (MUD) that represents the opposition groups in Venezuela. She is about to meet with the President to give her verbal report.

Maria Angela: I am supremely anguished by what I witnessed in Caracas. I was appalled at how unprepared Maduro’s team was for such a high stakes meeting that was aired in national TV for everyone to see. Worst of all, Juan Manuel, it was also witnessed by Luiz Alberto Figueiredo, Brazil’s Foreign Minister; Ricardo Patiño, Ecuador’s Foreign Minister; and Aldo Giordano, Vatican’s Apostolic Nuncio to Venezuela. If this is the way Maduro handles matters publicly, I wonder about the depth and breadth of the conversations when they discuss matters informally as a team internally. I am really mortified that this dialogue is going to lead nowhere. Juan Manuel my prestige is on the line here.

President Santos: What about the MUD? Were they equally unprepared?

Maria Angela: Absolutely not, they were very prepared and scripted. They pointed out serious violations of the Venezuelan Constitution. They questioned the trustworthiness of the last two elections. Using data released by Maduro’s own people in the Venezuelan Central Bank, the MUD seriously questioned the precarious state of the economy particularly the notion of heavy dependence on the oil revenue alone. They revealed horrific data about the violent crime rate in Venezuela that Maduro’s Government has encouraged rather than control.

President Santos: Did Maduro’s team respond assertively to any of the allegations made? For example what did they say about the economy?

Maria Angela: The fellow in charge of the economy and finances could not articulate a strong message, he was simply pathetic. It was all vague without data. All they kept saying is that they blame the forty years of the bipartisan governments of AD and COPEI. My God, Chavez and Maduro have been in power for more than 15 years now. That argument is not a good one. Maduro and his team do not want to take responsibility and be accountable. All they want is to stay in power.

President Santos: The impression I get from you is that you have taken sides already and you, as a mediator are supposed to be impartial.

Maria Angeles; I swear on my mother’s tomb that I am being objective. You should see the body language of Maduros’s team. Their gestures and demeanor were of disdain and contempt. They show no respect for the MUD. One of Maduro’s closest collaborator told a union leader and congressmen “I do not like you, I have never liked you, and however, I am willing to work with you.” This is no way to treat the other party in a nationally televised dialogue. On the contrary the MUD people were very respectful and always made statements based on data or provided examples of real life situations to illustrate their points.

President Santos: These type of conversations always have similar beginnings and as the dialogue progresses, things tend to get better. I think you are being impatient. Remember we have gone through this with our own revolutionaries here in Colombia.

Maria Angeles: Do you realize how tough we have been with our own revolutionaries to get them to the negotiating table? How can you be tough with Maduro if he controls all the power centers like Congress, the Supreme Court, the Military, and the National Elections Board? His weak spot is the state of Venezuelan economy, which is about to collapse due to anachronistic policies.

President Santos: Now you are passing judgment on the Venezuelan economy and that is not your job. You need to help Maduro and the MUD to find common ground so that Venezuela does not gradually become a failed state. That would hurt us big time

Maria Angeles: Forgive me Juan Manuel but you seem to be biased too. You are not being objective either because you are vested on Colombia’s best interest.

President Santos: Let us not go there for now. Tell me Maria Angeles how do you see the dialogue moving forward?

Maria Angeles: That is a tough question. I think Maduro is going to have to bring more brains to the table and diminish the ideological piece. He needs to be pragmatic and focused because Venezuela is in a lot of trouble. Maduro’s team needs training in negotiations, diplomacy, a coherent approach to this dialogue, and a clear sense of direction. At some instances I got the impression from Maduro’s people that this would go away just like an unfaithful husband would do when caught red handed. They are doing all the wrong things. Similarly Maduro needs strong evidence that his 21st Century Socialism is working and that the quality of life of all Venezuelan’s is improving not just that of the poor. Otherwise they need to abandon that model quick and cut their losses. The MUD needs to keep the pressure on if they are to get anything out of this dialogue. I think the democratic solution is along the lines of what Lula had suggested: a coalition to ensure a minimum of governability. As it is the Venezuelan economy is paralyzing in slow motion and it may past the point of no return. Frankly, Juan Manuel I fear anarchy and civil war. I sincerely hope it does not happen and I will do everything under my power of influence to avoid that outcome.


[1]This is a hypothetical dialogue. The content is the absolute responsibility of the author. These events never happened in reality.


32 Responses to “Imaginary Dialogues: Reporting From Venezuela by Paul Esqueda”

  1. […] not been able to get completed. But fortunately, my good friend Paul Esqueda, who has written here before, sent me the article below, which is timely and something I was worrying about, since about ten […]

  2. Hello! Do you use Twitter? I’d like to follow you if
    that would be okay. I’m undoubtedly enjoying your blog and
    look forward to new updates.

  3. Sombra de Luna Says:

    Como se suicidan mas soldados que los que mueren en la guerra?

  4. Sombra de Luna Says:

    que pena! y me da, tu que lees o vez!

  5. Dia del Chiguire Says:

    se me perdio el diente, y es te amo! y pajudo decir, quiero,

  6. Dia del Chiguire Says:

    Entenamiento para los!

  7. Roger Says:

    In the Spanish world few seem to care. Here in the US only Univision and Telemundo give any air time to the Venezuelan problem (sic). Telemundo and NBC are part of the Comcast group and by personal knowledge, they don’t even talk to each other. Some hope it will go away or that the Ucraine will get better numbers?
    Consider, how in Irak and other oil and key countries, weapons and insurgency just come to life? Who knows where the weapons come from? Venezuela should be on this list but, its not. Why? This is beyond the level of a gringo research assistant. Ja Ja!

  8. Dia del Chiguire Says:

    • m_astera Says:

      Excellent political metaphor. Thanks.

    • m_astera Says:

      Reminds me of the old Warner Bros cartoon where Daffy Duck falls off a cliff and is screaming as he’s going down. Bugs turns to the camera and says “I hope he remembers he can fly”

  9. Glenn Says:

    Miguel here’s one to ponder. Venezuela to settle on one exchange rate? The rate is mentioned in this article at 45 per dollar for next year but is this not still currency controls? I would think the rate is what it is and cannot be declared at this time if the government hopes to stop inflation and shortages.

  10. VJ Says:

    In Memorian of Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)

    Los cien años de Macondo sueñan, sueñan en el aire
    en los tiempos de Gabriel Trompeta trompetas lo anuncian
    encadenado a Macondo sueña Don José Arcadio
    y ante el la vida pasa siendo remolinos de recuerdos
    Las tristezas de Aureliano el Cuatro, la belleza de Remedios Violines
    Las pasiones de Amaranta Guitarra, El embrujo de Melquiades Trombones
    Ursula cien años, soledad Macondo
    Ursula cien años, soledad Macondo
    Eres doncella del pueblo olvidado
    forjado en cien años de amores de historia
    Eres doncella del pueblo olvidado
    forjado en cien años de amores de historia
    En Macondo yo vuelvo a vivir
    en mi memoria que va desde el sol,
    solista: mariposas amarillas Mauricio Babilonia
    coro: mariposas amarillas que vuelan liberadas
    solista: mariposas amarillas Mauricio Babilonia
    coro: mariposas amarillas que vuelan liberadas

  11. VJ Says:

    Reblog from


    Cuando hablamos de partidos políticos hay dos posibilidades. O nos referimos a las organizaciones nominales, por muy insignificantes que sean, o a las “partes” en las cuales se encuentra dividido el espectro político. No siempre, ni siquiera en las democracias avanzadas, lo uno coincide con lo otro.
    En los EE.UU., por ejemplo, hay demócratas más conservadores que los republicanos; y viceversa. En Alemania hay socialcristianos más sociales que los socialistas; y así sucesivamente. Hay países en que las partes son más que los partidos y otros en los cuales los partidos son más que las partes. En el caso de Venezuela las partes son evidentemente menos que los partidos inscritos. ¿Cuántos partidos-partes hay en Venezuela? Ese es el tema que tratará de dilucidar este texto.

    Continue reading at:

  12. Dr. Faustus Says:

    And, ah, the response to all of this new dialogue as per Venezuelanalysis, from one Lucha de Clases is:

    “No agreements, no conciliation – complete revolution!

    No peace without justice – trial and punishment of the conspirators and coup plotters against the democratic will of the majority!

    Turn the rudder – forward toward socialism!

    Source: Lucha de clases”

    Sorry. I guess they’re still ticked….

  13. Antonio Machado Allison Says:

    Dear Paul, excellent.

  14. Ira Says:

    These talks are a sideshow which will accomplish nothing for either side. (I therefore throw my wholehearted approval for the circus tent graphic chosen for this article!)

    This administration is beyond embarrassment or shame; they’re incapable of such emotions. And if the realities of everyday live in VZ aren’t enough to move the voters on the fence, how the hell is a couple of hours of boring television going to accomplish that?

    I’m astounded that either side of this war argues that these “debates” will be of benefit or detriment to one side or the other.

    They’re a joke, because they’re not even mediations, and certainly not binding mediations based on the recommendations of the “neutral” third party nations “involved.”

    A total waste of time for the opposition AND Chavismo.

    • Dean A Nash Says:

      I agree. Who says that history doesn’t repeat itself. The anti-Castro Cubans (both in the U.S. and in Cuba) were all insisting that with “X” (insert favorite calamity, ex. collapse of USSR, hurricanes, etc…) surely this meant that the end was near for Castro. And yet, 50+ years later, he remains.

      Freedom isn’t free and isn’t obtained through dialogue. I’ll let you deduce what this means.

    • Noel Says:

      I disagree. By holding these talks, Maduro reduced the pressure that was building on him from Brazil, Chile, Colombia and Peru At the same time, since the opposition agreed to talks without securing the prior release of Lopez or an end to violence in the street, it was in a weak position to obtain anything.

      I keep thinking that the only three lucid political opponents are Lopez (in jail), Miquelina (old and carrying some baggage) and MC Machado (the current target of the government’s attacks). The future looks bleak unless the opposition can unite and adopt a much more effective strategy.

      • Ira Says:

        You underestimate, or overestimate, the effect of these talks on the third party countries:

        Those leaders who were willing to give Maduro a pass will certainly not be influenced to change their minds by this, and mere talk isn’t going to change the minds of those critical of Chavismo. Talk is cheap.

        • Noel Says:

          It is not these leaders I was referring to, because I agree with you that they have been unconditional supporters, it is the public opinion and the opposition parties. A number of these leaders are facing elections and not doing so well.

  15. Kepler Says:

    I really insist we must have more of these meetings, live, for everyone to see.
    I never have put any hope in a dialogue or real debate with Chavecrats because they are inherently dishonest and completely incapable of debating
    but the meetings are good because they become an embarrassment to several percentages of Maduro voters who are now becoming less attached to Chavismo and above show the rest of the world what a bunch of idiots Boligarchs (or Chavecrats) are.

    Unfortunately, what I see is people think it has to be either a cadena or like yesterday.
    We don’t need a cadena. That pisses off a lot of people and it is commercially not tenable. Just one channel needs to broadcast it: the national, public channel VTV.

  16. Ronaldo Says:

    Chavez never agreed to have a debate and the reason is obvious. Chavez could not support his own positions. Period. Chavez spewed lies and degenerated into name calling whenever he was questioned.

    Maduro meeting with the opposition is insane on his part.
    Maduro cannot support his own actions and the country is hurting because of it.

    I hope to see more of these “peace meetings” but I would bet the house Maduro is afraid his lack of education would become obvious.

  17. Bill Says:

    On April 29, 1812, the American House of Representatives debated a resolution to purchase barrels of flour to aid the victims of the earthquake of Caracas, Venezuela. The resolution passes and will become the first foreign aid bill of the United States.

    Venezuela had suffered a powerful earthquake on March 26, 1812 measuring about 7.7 in magnitude. The earthquake caused extensive damage in Caracas, La Guaira, Barquisimeto, San Felipe, and Mérida with an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 dead.

    The resolution for the aid was moved by Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina. The only contentious point was raised by John Randolph of Virginia, who wanted to amend the resolution to authorize all vessels with cargo to be allowed to go to Venezuela. John Calhoun of South Carolina opposed this amendment. Calhoun said he regretted that the resolution “to aid the cause of humanity could not be allowed to pass without the inter-mixture of party feeling.” He also opposed the amendment as it would virtually repeal the Embargo Act that had been passed. Randolph’s amendment was defeated 74 to 30. The resolution was then amended to change “barrels of flour” to “provisions” so that corn or flour could also be sent. The resolution then passed unanimously by the House of Representatives.

    We were the first to assist, and now the first to be criticized.

    Love this country and it’s people!
    Gringo Bill

  18. captaincs Says:

    Let’s try that again…

    >>>His weak spot is the state of Venezuelan economy, which is about to collapse due to anachronistic policies.

    No, the economy is not GOING TO COLLAPSE. It is collapsed already. It collapsed when they abolished markets..

    When you have to queue up for hours to buy basic necessities like toilette paper, milk and vegetable oil THE ECONOMY HAS COLLAPSED.

    When you can’t produce oil and gas because you don’t have the money to buy spare parts THE ECONOMY HAS COLLAPSED.

    Obama blames Bush, Chavez and Maburro blame AD and COPEI. What else is new?

    >>>I think Maduro is going to have to bring more brains to the table

    Where in hell is he going to find any?

    • Roy Says:

      Sorry to contradict you, but we have not seen “collapsed” yet. I fear that before this is over, we will see mass starvation and collapse of civil order.

      I agree that Chavismo cannot produce any “brains” to bring to the table. Any real thinkers abandoned Chavismo long ago.

  19. captaincs Says:

    >>>His weak spot is the state of Venezuelan economy, which is about to collapse due to anachronistic policies.<<>>I think Maduro is going to have to bring more brains to the table

    Where in hell is he going to find any?

  20. John Barnard Says:

    Although this is fiction, I can’t imagine why anyone would want to share power and then blame for this sinking ship.

  21. Petrous Says:

    Unfortunately for the fictitious Maria Angeles, the only coalition that would work is that of a SINGLE partner. Either the same current shysters stay until they sink with the country or they are superseded by a totally different crew via elections or a recall or referendum. The current crew is akin to a spot of lethal contamination and it simply must be drained out not mixed with fresh stock. If they accept a some patsies as coalition members it would be only to have some one to blame again for another 15 years.

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