The “Group of Friends” that is trying to help in the mediation between the Government and the opposition will meet in Brazil tomorrow. Each side, the Government and the opposition will have a chance to present their point of view in a forty minute presentation. This is what they indicate they will say:
-The Government: The Ambassador to the OAS Jorge Valero says he will emphasize that the political and economic life of the country is going back to normal; that the oil industry is back to normal and political confrontation has been minimized.
-The Opposition: The representative of the opposition will emphasize the escalation of violence and the persecution of the opposition. He also said that the Government has tried to prolong negotiations. (he also said that obviously Valero does not live in Caracas)
Now, it is obvious which side I am on, but I would definitely refuse to call “normal” the following: Excahnge controls have been imposed and not a single dollar has been sold by the Central Bank since January 23d. in a country that relies on imports for foods and technology, the oil industry is producing less than half its usual production, the country is importing gasoline, inflation was up 5.5% in February, 17,000 people have been fired from PDVSA, the US has called Venezuela an unreliable oil supplier, people have dissapeared and turned up tortured and dead, there have been three terrorist attempts in two weeks of a magnitude not seen in the country in decades, a truck carrying over a ton in explosives was captured by the Army, the Government has failed to attend meetings of the negotiation table, there can be no elections in the country and one leader of the opposition has been arrested and warrants for the arrest of seven orders have been issued. They call this “normal”?