The government of Norway, which has inserted itself into the struggle between Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó and socialist dictator Nicolás Maduro, claimed on Wednesday that the two sides seemed willing to “move forward” in talks hosted by Oslo. This was just hours before Guaidó claimed no deal came of the talks and he would take to the streets again.
In its statement, Oslo also appeared to threaten both sides into silence, demanding “utmost caution in their comments and statements regarding the process.”
Norway, which recognizes Maduro as the nation’s president despite his term ending in January, offered to host the talks but has not explained what qualifies it to settle the dispute or defined what a positive outcome from the talks would look like. Guaidó was sworn in as president in January, as per the Venezuelan Constitution, but Maduro refuses to vacate the presidential palace and controls the nation’s military. As Maduro has imprisoned, tortured, and killed hundreds of opposition leaders, he has made a peaceful resolution with the opposition impossible.
Most recently, Maduro sent his political police (the Bolivarian Intelligence Agency, or Sebin) to arrest Edgar Zambrano, Guaidó’s deputy in the National Assembly. As Zambrano refused to get out of his car, Sebin agents towed him and his car into the Helicoide, one of Venezuela’s most notorious political prisons. Zambrano has been missing since May 9.
“The parties have demonstrated their willingness to move forward in the search for an agreed-upon and constitutional solution for the country, which includes political, economic and electoral matters,” the Norwegian Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday. “In order to preserve a process that can lead to results, the parties are requested to show their utmost caution in their comments and statements regarding the process.”
Guaidó sent some of his top diplomats to the Oslo meeting this week, including National Assembly Vice President Stalin González and former election official Vicente Díaz. Maduro sent his foreign minister and Hugo Chávez’s son-in-law, Jorge Arreaza, and Communications Minister Jorge Rodríguez, brother of one of Maduro’s most belligerent officials, Vice President Delcy Rodríguez.
Maduro celebrated the results of the talks.
“I am proud of the delegation that we have in Norway and proud that we are in a constructive dialogue phase with the Venezuelan opposition and I know I have the support of the people and the [armed forces],” Maduro said on state television Wednesday. Maduro continues to refer to Guaidó’s group as “the opposition” despite the fact that Guaidó is legally the most powerful official in the country.
Guaidó’s statement on the talks was far less optimistic:
Sobre el proceso en Noruega reiteramos lo que ha sido una constante: mantendremos la presión en todos los tableros e informaremos al país sobre nuestras acciones. https://t.co/sor2jQ0Ovl
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) May 30, 2019
“The mediation meeting that we attended at the invitation of the government of Norway in Oslo has concluded. We have ratified our route: the end of the usurpation, a transition government, and free elections as the way to solve the tragedy that our Venezuela suffers today,” a statement Guaidó published on Twitter Wednesday read, adding:
That meeting ended without agreement. We have insisted that mediation will be useful for Venezuela so long as there are elements that allow the advance towards a true solution. Therefore, we remain in the struggle until we resolve the crisis all Venezuelans suffer. Thus, the process does not deter efforts through all constitutional avenues.
“We appreciate the will of the government of Norway to contribute to a solution to the chaos. … We are willing to continue along with them, just as we have with the Lima Group and the Contact Group in the search for answers,” the statement concludes.
Guaidó appeared on Fox Business Network Wednesday night and insisted that he would continue to organize protests against the regime despite the “mediation.”
“We have been struggling in the streets of Venezuela for the past five months demanding the end of the usurpation of power,” Guaidó told host Trish Regan. “We are talking about seven million people who are in dire need.”
“There was no immediate agreement, so the chance that we have today is to remain in the streets,” he insisted.
The socialist-led Venezuelan opposition has attempted four other negotiation talks with Maduro since he took over for late dictator Chávez in 2013. All have failed and allowed Maduro to purchase weapons and bribe his officials into continued loyalty, resulting in the deaths of hundreds of protesters, including many children. Talks with the regime are extremely unpopular among the Venezuelan people. A poll released in early May found that 87.6 percent of Venezuelans oppose any talks between Maduro and President Guaidó’s administration.
Guaidó’s announcement that he would participate in the Norway talks triggered outrage among Venezuelan conservatives who watched the other four attempts at mediation fail. Some warned it was a “trap” and a dead end, to which Guaidó responded that the talks were not negotiations, but “mediation” and that this was different.
“We should properly verbalize the Norway thing,” he said last week. “We cannot use the regime’s narrative. It is an invitation to mediation on the part of Norway. That is to say, it is not a negotiation or a dialogue.”
The United States, which was among the first countries to recognize Guaidó, also appeared wary about the talks.
“We are not supportive of courses of action that leave corrupt and non-democratic actors in power or buy time for the Maduro regime to further consolidate its hold on the country,” a U.S. State Department spokesperson told Breitbart News on Tuesday. “Any discussion of a transition must include Maduro’s departure as a precondition for elections; the increasing repression and attacks against democratic institutions is proof positive that Maduro is unwilling or incapable of respecting democratic processes.”