November 29, 2021

Venezuela government signals ‘partial agreements’ at Mexico talks

President Maduro hopes Mexico City talks will help ease global sanctions while the opposition wants guarantees of free and fair regional elections.

A top Venezuelan official says talks between the government and the opposition aimed at resolving the country’s longstanding political crisis have yielded “partial agreements”.

Parliament speaker Jorge Rodriguez, head of the government delegation, told reporters on Saturday the two sides were working towards agreements, but officials provided no information on the nature of the agreements and a source in the opposition delegation told AFP that “so far, nothing has been agreed”.

The opposition is hoping to use the talks being held in Mexico City to secure guarantees of free and fair regional elections to be held in the fall, while the government of Nicolas Maduro wants to ease international sanctions on his economically crippled nation.

The talks, mediated by Norway and hosted by Mexico, aim to resolve the crisis that has marked Maduro’s eight-year rule.

The negotiations have a seven-point agenda, including easing sanctions, political rights and electoral guarantees – but not the departure of Maduro, accused by the opposition of fraudulent reelection in 2018.

The government is “very attentive” to all the economic guarantees that have been “wrested, blocked, stolen, withdrawn from the people of Venezuela”, said Rodriguez, adding that Maduro seeks a partial if not total lifting of sanctions in exchange for concessions to the opposition.

The main opposition alliance headed by Juan Guaido reversed course this week when it announced that it would end a three-year election boycott and take part in mayoral and gubernatorial polls in November.

Speaking before the start of the negotiations, head of the opposition delegation Gerardo Blyde expressed hope that the talks “will seek to alleviate the crisis, but the crisis comes from very serious basic problems, from a model which failed in Venezuela and which does not recognise the democratic order and the constitutional order”.

He added that it is “a process which is beginning, which is hard, complex”.

Neither Maduro nor Guaido, who is considered president by about 60 countries, was due to personally attend the closed-door talks, which were scheduled to run until Monday.

“We are in Mexico looking for a national salvation agreement to respond to the emergency, obtain the conditions for free and fair elections and the rescue of our democracy,” Guaido tweeted.

Previous rounds of similar negotiations held in recent years have failed to resolve the crisis.