Venezuela: Guaidó Accepts Talks with Maduro Days After Swearing Them Off

Venezuelan opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president Juan Guaido addresses supporters during a meeting in Caracas [Federico Parra/AFP]
Federico Parra/AFP

Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó confirmed on Monday that he would send a delegation for talks with dictator Nicolás Maduro in tropical Barbados, days after saying he had given up on negotiating with the “deadly dictatorship.”

Guaidó, recognized by the United States and most Western democracies as Venezuela’s legitimate president, said in an official statement that his principal motivation was to “put an end to the suffering of the Venezuelan people, and that is why we will continue working to achieve it.” Notably, Norway, the mediating country in the talks, does not recognize Guaidó despite the rules of the nation’s constitution making him president.

“The Venezuelan people, our allies and the world’s democracies recognize the need for a truly free and transparent electoral process that will allow us to surpass the crisis and built a productive future,” the statement continued. “We ask people not to respond to the curiosity of a propaganda apparatus that seeks to foment hopelessness and division.”

Guaidó’s willingness to re-engage in talks with the Maduro regime comes days after he told reporters outside the country’s National Assembly that he had given up trying to negotiate with “kidnappers, human rights violators, and a dictatorship.”

“There is never going to be a good moment to meditate,” he said last Thursday. “We are facing a deadly dictatorship.”

Past rounds of negotiation, which took place in Sweden and Norway, have both ended in stalemate after the Maduro regime refused Guaidó’s demands for the “end of the usurpation, a transition government, and free elections.”

“We have insisted that mediation will be useful for Venezuela so long as there are elements that allow the advance towards a true solution,” Guaidó said at the time. “Therefore, we remain in the struggle until we resolve the crisis all Venezuelans suffer.”

Recent polling found that around 87.6 percent of Venezuelans are against any form of dialogue with the regime, believing the exercises to be futile while handing Maduro unjustified legitimacy. Last week, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet released a report accusing the regime of “gross” human rights violations while also noting the country’s worsening economic and humanitarian crisis that has led to one of the world’s largest outward migration crises.

Maduro signaled last week that he was eager to create “a permanent table for dialogue and solutions,” but failed to mention what kind of solution he had in mind.

“I would like to reaffirm the government’s readiness for the dialogue in Norway, aimed at creating a permanent mechanism for talks and search for solutions,” he declared on state television. “This is the goal and I can say that the process is developing in a good manner … There will be positive news in the coming weeks about how well the contact, negotiation, and pre-agreement processes are going.”

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