The government of Nicolas Maduro and the opposition will resume negotiations on the crisis of Venezuela, suspended more than a year ago, Colombian President Gustavo Petro and a Venezuelan opposition source said Wednesday. The opposition asked for a schedule for “free” presidential elections, scheduled for 2024, after accusing Maduro of fraudulently re-election in 2018. Maduro, in turn, has as his central demand the end of the sanctions that the United States imposed on Venezuela.
“This November 25 and 26, the dialogues between the Maduro government and the Venezuelan opposition will resume,” posted on Twitter Petrowho has expressed willingness to support contacts between both parties.
LOOK: Maduro assures that Venezuela will be the world epicenter of food production
The first leftist president of Colombia He did not specify where these conversations would be.
However, a source linked to the negotiations told AFP that the delegations will begin arriving in Mexico City on Friday for an “afternoon work day.”
A first agreement on social aspects is expected to be signed on Saturday, added the source, but still there is no consensus around crucial political issues such as the upcoming presidential elections and their conditions.
The chief negotiators of Ripe and the oppositionJorge Rodríguez and Gerardo Blyde, respectively, met on November 11 during the Paris Forum, through the mediation of the President of France, Emmanuel Macron, although at that time they did not agree on a date to resume talks.
The Chavismo government and the opposition began negotiations in Mexico in August 2021 after failed initiatives in 2018 in the Dominican Republic and 2019 in Barbados. Maduro froze them two months later for the extradition to the United States of businessman Alex Saab, close to the government and prosecuted for money laundering.
The resumption of negotiations gained strength in recent months, pushed by international actors who urged the parties to meet again in Mexico.
During the fifth edition of the Paris Forum on Peace, Macron and his colleagues from Colombia, Petro, and from Argentina, Alberto Fernández, as well as the Norwegian Foreign Minister, Anniken Huitfeldt, met with envoys from the opposition and Chavismo and they considered, in a joint declaration, negotiation as the “only way”.
They expressed their objective to “encourage Venezuelan political actors to agree on a way out of the crisis, with a view to free, democratic presidential elections with international electoral observation in 2024.”
Neither Rodríguez nor Blyde have commented on the resumption of contacts scheduled for this weekend.
Since he took power on August 7, Petro close ties with Ripe. Both resumed Caracas-Bogotá diplomatic relations, broken since 2019 due to differences between the then president, Iván Duque (2018-2022), and the Venezuelan president.
Venezuela hosts the peace talks between the Colombian government and the ELN guerrilla.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó has eroded. He has lost key allies since he swore himself in 2019 as interim president in a public square with the support of the United States and fifty other countries.
Chile, Colombia and Brazil swung to the left in Latin America.
RipeMeanwhile, he has sought direct contacts with the Joe Biden administration, which sent delegates to Caracas in May and June.
Washington, officially, continues to ignore Maduro and considers Guaidó the “legitimate” leader of Venezuela, but has expressed a willingness to review its sanctions, which include an oil embargo, amid the energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Europe is also looking for ways out and Maduro has declared himself “ready” to supply it with oil and gas.
On November 7, at the International Conference against Climate Change (COP27) in Egypt, Maduro had a brief informal conversation with Macron, who called on him to “undertake useful bilateral work.” Like the United States, France is officially unaware of Maduro.
The main opposition parties have also weakened: they lost last year’s regional elections, in which they returned to the polls after boycotting the 2018 presidential and 2020 legislative elections, and their power to call protests plummeted.
Analysts such as political consultant Pablo Andrés Quintero consider that the situation has removed “incentives” for the government to give in to negotiations.
The opposition, trying to relaunch, promotes primaries towards the presidential ones.