In the corridors of the world climate summit, two men with totally opposite personalities met on Monday. The president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, held a meeting of almost two minutes with the French leader, Emmanuel Macron. In a way of greeting that is very much his own, Maduro raised his tone and addressed Macron in a sarcastic way, sputtering a few words in French. Macron, more serene, approached his interlocutor in search of greater intimacy and told him that he had to “get this way”, which seems to be a reference to the negotiating table in Mexico between Chavismo and the opposition to celebrate in Venezuela. verifiable presidential elections in the year 2024. The moment was recorded by Telesur, the television network that Hugo Chávez created in his day to compete with the BBC and CNN.
The brief and cordial meeting took place at COP 27, which is being held these days in the desert city of Sharm el Sheikh. The interpreter of the Venezuelan made a bridge between the two. Macron was less effusive than his counterpart, all told. Maduro asked him when he was visiting Venezuela, to which he did not answer, and then pointed out that they had friends in common. The French president referred to the advance of the left in Latin America, with the recent victories of Petro in Colombia and Lula da Silva in Brazil. He noted that the continent “is putting itself back together.” Maduro grabbed her on the fly: “France has to play a positive role.” Behind them, one of Maduro’s sons listens attentively to the conversation.
The Venezuelan president has met the rest of the world leaders at a time when he is less isolated than a year ago. Colombia has recognized his presidency, the interim term of the opposition Juan Guaidó has foundered and the White House has built some bridges with him, without the matter being entirely significant yet. The international community, through the figures of Joe Biden and Petro, are asking him to join the regional control bodies and to set a date for presidential elections where opponents can really discuss power. Maduro has given some signs that he wants to go down that path, but critics of this negotiation process consider that he is simply playing for time.
Macron has seemed to refer to this transition process and has summoned Maduro to speak later and begin bilateral work that is useful for the country and the region. “To order”, the Venezuelan replied. He took the opportunity to remind him that Jorge Rodríguez, one of his most trusted men, will be at the Paris Peace Forum in a few days. “You can talk to him, with confidence. You heard, with absolute confidence,” Maduro stressed, before explaining that Rodríguez is the president of the National Assembly.
The Frenchman added that Petro and the president of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, will participate in these conferences. I saw it in the press, Maduro replies, and assures him that the event will go well. “Once this happens, I’m going to call him,” insists the French president. Maduro thanks him twice in French, just as the conversation had begun, and they say goodbye. Meetings like this show that the world seems to have reconnected with Maduro, but he asks him back to take steps to carry out a political transition in Venezuela.
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