Venezuela’s Maduro, opposition resuming talks

The two sides will try to resolve a leadership dispute that triggered international sanctions

CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s government will resume talks with the opposition Friday after more than a year in a bid to resolve a political crisis that has gripped the country since a contested 2018 election.

Formal negotiations between the two sides last took place in October 2021 in Mexico, and international efforts have mounted in recent months to get the talks back on track.

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

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

Venezuela opposition leader Juan Guaido’s office, however, tweeted that “information about a possible agreement and restart of the negotiations will be announced by official sources,” or by “the facilitating country, Norway.”

“Speculation hinders the possibility of a deal,” the office said.

While Colombia’s Petro did not specify where the talks would take place, a Venezuelan opposition source close to the negotiations told AFP the delegations would meet in Mexico City on Friday.

Venezuela was already facing a severe economic crisis and a brutal government crackdown on protests when a contested presidential election in 2018 plunged it into a political impasse.

Maduro declared himself the victor of the poll, which was widely seen as fraudulent, prompting massive protests.

Meanwhile, almost 60 countries, including the United States, recognized opposition leader Guaido as Venezuela’s acting president.

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

One measure prevented Venezuela from trading its crude oil — which accounted for 96 percent of the country’s revenues — on the US market.

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