The government of Venezuela, the opposition to continue negotiations

MEXICO CITY — The Venezuelan government and its opposition announced on Thursday that long-stalled talks aimed at finding a common way out of their country’s complex crisis will resume this weekend.

The announcement of the upcoming talks in Mexico City comes two weeks after delegates from both sides took part in a round table sponsored by French President Emmanuel Macron. Norwegian diplomats are in charge of the negotiations this time as well.

“We announce that the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the United Platform of Venezuela have decided to restart the dialogue and negotiation process in Mexico on November 26, with the participation of Norway,” the Norwegian Embassy in Mexico tweeted. “There, the parties sign a partial agreement on social matters.”

The dialogue formally began in September 2021 in Mexico, but was suspended the following month when President Nicolás Maduro ordered his delegation to withdraw in protest at the extradition of a close ally to the United States.

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The negotiations planned for the weekend will focus on the humanitarian aid program of the South American country suffering from a lack of funds, as well as the conditions for the presidential election scheduled for 2024. Maduro and opposition representatives, including the US-backed faction and led by Juan Guaidó, are also likely to discuss the US expansion of oil giant Chevron in Venezuela.

A UN report released earlier this year estimated humanitarian aid at $795 million to help some 5.2 million people through health, education, water and sanitation, food and other projects.

Maduro’s chief negotiator, National Assembly President Jorge Rodriguez, said in a statement that the government would sign an agreement in Mexico that would create a mechanism to “solve vital social needs and public service problems, recover the legitimate resources and property of the Venezuelan state,” which are today blocked in the in the international financial system.” He highlighted a range of societal needs, including vaccines, medicines, medical equipment and energy infrastructure.

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However, Rodriguez’s statement did not specify the financial sources he cited. Under the presidency of Donald Trump, the United States imposed economic sanctions on Venezuela and authorized Guaido to take over bank accounts held by the Maduro government at the Federal Reserve Bank of New York or any other US-backed bank.

Guaidó declared himself interim president of Venezuela in January 2019, arguing that as president of the country’s National Assembly at the time, the constitution allowed him to form a transitional government as Maduro was re-elected in a sham vote in late 2018. countries including the United States, Canada and Colombia supported Guaidó’s move and began to recognize him as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.

European banks also keep frozen Venezuelan assets.

“We Venezuelans have suffered the consequences of the lack of human rights guarantees and institutional mechanisms that provide solutions to our needs,” the opposition statement said. For this reason, this delegation urgently appeals to the process of dialogue and negotiation and the desire to find tangible and real agreements once and for all, which are manifested in the resolution of the humanitarian crisis, respect for human rights and respect for the rule of law. law and, in particular, the creation of conditions and institutions that guarantee, among other things, free and observable elections.”

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About 7 million people have left Venezuela amid a complex political and humanitarian crisis. Three-quarters of those who remain in the country live on less than $1.90 a day, the international measure of extreme poverty. Many people do not have access to clean, running water and electricity.

Maduro’s delegates walked out of the talks in October 2021 after businessman Alex Saab was extradited from Cape Verde to the United States on money laundering charges, a condition of Saab’s continued release. He remains in custody, but his wife, Camila Fabri de Saab, will be part of Maduro’s delegation.