Friday, January 05, 2018

Dialogue in Honduras and Venezuela

Various groups are calling for dialogue in Honduras. For some reason, the German Embassy is one.  This sounds nice. Dialogue is always good, right? The problem is that the context is the same as Venezuela's. The president wants to have a dialogue with everyone and live in peace. The opposition wants the president removed. There is no compromise position to aim for.

The government has all the leverage, especially if it has the army's support. It simply wants to buy time until the heat of the protests dies down. You may remember that in 2009 there was also dialogue. Here's what I wrote then:

If protests dwindle and most people go back to their daily routines, then the crisis might easily revert to its previous situation of ticking off the days until the election. Just as before, there is little overt international pressure on the coup government, or at least not enough to change its stance.

And that's what happened. The days ticked off and corruption settled in even deeper.

I wrote back in 2014 that one positive aspect of dialogue in Venezuela was simply goodwill. Having people see each other as humans and fellow Venezuelans/Hondurans is an important step and at least can reduce violence. But the fact that I wrote that four years ago (and the Honduras post 9 years ago!) and nothing was achieved is an indicator of how hard it is to make dialogue reduce conflict in the long term. There isn't any reason not to dialogue and negotiated transitions do sometimes happen, but if the army is not on board then it's hard to see much happening.


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