CARACAS – The Venezuelan regime and opposition discreetly met on Monday after mediation by the so-called International Contact Group on Venezuela and the Norwegian government with the aim of finding a solution to untangle the ongoing political and social crisis in the Caribbean country.
Over the weekend, the special adviser of the European Union for Venezuela, Enrique Iglesias, had arrived in Caracas and set up separate meetings with representatives of both sides.
Venezuela’s embattled incumbent Nicolas Maduro described the first day of talks as “auspicious” after the regime’s representative, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, met with Iglesias and a delegation representing the opposition for five hours.
Meanwhile, Iglesias and the speaker of parliament, Juan Guaido – who has been recognized as the nation’s interim president by more than 50 countries –, held a separate meeting, though no images or statements have been released.
Marco Aurelio Quinones, who – like Guaido – is also a leader of the opposition Popular Will party, confirmed to journalists that the interim president had held a “private conversation” with Iglesias.
However, the National Communication Center – the body that coordinates the communications of the interim presidency – has not shared any information about the meeting.
On the other hand, there were images of the “working meeting” between Iglesias and the executive vice president of the Maduro regime, Delcy Rodriguez, which took place the same day.
In the official account of the vice presidency of the Republic, it was reported that the meeting was held in order to “strengthen the Bolivarian diplomacy of peace with international organizations,” as well as “to continue the process of national dialogue.”
While in Caracas the presence of Iglesias garnered the public’s interest, the focus was also on Barbados, a Caribbean island that, under the auspices of the Norwegian government, hosted the third round of talks between Venezuelan opposition and government officials.
Sources in the Guaido camp said that the opposition was being represented by the second vice president of the Assembly, Stalin Gonzalez, the former mayor of the Caracas municipality of Baruta Gerardo Blyde, and the former Minister of Transport and Communications Fernando Martinez Mottola (1992-93).
Some parts of the opposition have voiced their objections to the resumption of talks with the government. For example, the exiled mayor of Caracas Antonio Ledezma addressed Guaido on Twitter by saying that “we will be better off when it is announced that the dialogue with Norway in Barbados is over.”
As for the Chavist regime, Minister of Foreign Affairs Jorge Arreaza said on his Twitter account that they were continuing the dialogue with the opposition “without ambiguities” while thanking Barbados for its hospitality and reiterating his recognition of Norway as a mediator.
According to a statement from the Venezuelan foreign ministry, the Maduro regime expects that these meetings will allow “the establishment and consolidation of a permanent dialogue for peace.”
The first vice president of the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV), Diosdado Cabello, said at a press conference that the party had offered “all the support” to Maduro for “his almost heroic insistence on enabling the dialogue.”
Venezuela has witnessed extreme political tensions since January, when Maduro was sworn in for another six-year term after winning elections which were described as fraudulent by the opposition. In response, Guaido took oath as the interim president.
Guaido has the backing of more than 50 governments, led by the United States, which has repeatedly asked Maduro to call free elections and abandon power.