With the political climate worsening, foreign ministers of Chile, Argentina and Uruguay on May 20 in Santiago made “an urgent appeal for an effective political dialogue and a genuine civic understanding among all the political and social actors in this sister nation.”
One day earlier, another trio of foreign mediators announced they were trying to establish “national dialogue” between the long-conflicting government and opposition coalition.
However, former Spanish prime minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and former presidents of Panama and the Dominican Republic Martin Torrijos and Leonel Fernandez realized that it would be “a long, hard and difficult path.”
After the trio held separate meetings with both sides, the opposition coalition issued a statement saying the talks must focus on the recall referendum, while President Nicolas Maduro hoped the dialogue could make the opposition drop its “coup-oriented attitude.”
Dual-wheel diplomacy and national dialogue are just a good will, but almost got ground to zero on May 21, when a two-day military drill climaxed to show the government’s grip on power and readiness to confront any internal and foreign threat.
(On-Site Sound: Rocket Bomb Fired)
The military exercise purportedly mobilized 520,000 armed forces, but obviously scaled down as seen from television and photos.
Media was allowed to film and report the drill at Fort Guaicaipuro, south of Caracas, where rocket firing and rifle shooting were conducted.
(Soundbite) Vladimir Padrino López, Minister of Defense
“All the people have to be prepared for specific tasks in specific areas and take his position. I work at each trench. These are the tasks of national defense.”
It has been the second countrywide military maneuver conducted since Maduro became president in 2013.
The head of state looked ever confident while shaking hands with his soldiers on drill.
(On-Site Sound: Troops Hailing)
Last time was in 2015, right after the United States issued an executive order to punish his government and some of his high-level officials for the alleged menace Caracas imposed against Washington.