Venezuela’s Maduro resumes talks with the opposition on Friday

Venezuela’s Maduro resumes talks with the opposition on Friday


Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government will resume talks with the opposition on Friday after more than a year to resolve a political crisis that has gripped the country since a contentious 2018 election.

Negotiations between the two sides were last held in Mexico in October 2021, and international efforts have intensified in recent months to get the talks back on track.

The opposition is seeking free and fair presidential elections, to be held next in 2024, while Caracas wants the international community to recognize Maduro as the legitimate president and lift sanctions.

“The dialogue between Maduro’s government and the Venezuelan opposition will resume on November 25-26,” Colombia’s President Gustavo Petro wrote on Twitter.

He did not specify where the talks would take place, but a source close to the negotiations told AFP that the delegations would meet in Mexico City on Friday.

Venezuela was already facing a deep economic crisis and a government crackdown on protests when a disputed 2018 presidential election plunged it into a political impasse.

Maduro declared himself the winner of the poll, which was widely seen as a scam and sparked massive protests.

Almost 60 countries, including the United States, have now recognized opposition leader Juan Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president.

The US and European Union imposed painful sanctions on Venezuela, worsening an economy that has experienced roaring inflation in recent years, prompting millions to flee the country.

A measure prevented Venezuela from trading its crude oil – which accounted for 96 percent of the country’s revenue – on the US market.

– Ukraine war gives new impetus –

After two previous attempts at negotiations had failed, the most recent round of talks between the government and the opposition began in Mexico in August 2021.

However, Maduro suspended negotiations two months later in retaliation for Cape Verde’s extradition to the United States of Alex Saab, a Colombian national accused of acting as a money launderer for the Venezuelan socialist leader.

Earlier this month, negotiators from both sides met in Paris, mediated by French President Emmanuel Macron.

International efforts to resolve the Venezuelan crisis have gathered strength since the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the pressure it has put on global energy supplies.

US President Joe Biden’s administration announced in May that it would ease some sanctions as energy prices soared due to the war.

At the same time, Guaido’s influence has waned and he has lost key allies at home and in the region, where many countries have since elected left-wing presidents.

Colombia’s Petro has become a new player in the talks since becoming his country’s first left-wing president in August.

He has worked to improve his country’s ties with Venezuela, reestablishing diplomatic ties for the first time since 2019, when former President Ivan Duque refused to recognize Maduro’s election.

Venezuela is also now hosting peace talks between the Colombian government and the country’s last official rebel group, the National Liberation Army.

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