CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — Venezuela’s self-declared interim president Juan Guaido said Sunday a new dialogue between the opposition and President Nicolas Maduro’s government would be held in Barbados.
He did not specify a date for resumption of talks at the new venue, in the Caribbean, after earlier discussions stalled in Norway.
“In response to the mediation of the Kingdom of Norway (the opposition) will attend a meeting with representatives of the usurper regime in Barbados, to establish a negotiation on the end of the dictatorship,” Guaido said in a statement.
Delegations representing the Venezuelan rivals met face-to-face in Oslo for the first time in late May, in a process begun two weeks earlier under Norwegian auspices to find a solution to the South American country’s economic and political crises.
Oil-rich Venezuela has been ravaged by five years of recession marked by shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities.
It plunged deeper into political turmoil in January when National Assembly speaker Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.
Guaido is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries but has been unable to dislodge Maduro, who is backed by Cuba, Russia and China.
Last Tuesday Guaido had said there were no plans to re-open talks with the “murderous dictatorship” of Maduro, following the death of an officer in custody over an alleged coup plot.
The suspicious death of retired naval officer Rafael Acosta Arevalo sparked international condemnation.
Guaido said at that time, though, that if fresh talks aimed at “facilitating the cessation of the usurpation” of Maduro were announced, “we will officially communicate.”
The Barbados talks will be the third round since May.
Guaido wants them to lead towards Maduro’s departure from the presidency he has held since 2013, to a transitional government, and then to “free elections with international observers.”
Maduro has repeatedly said that the dialogue “will continue” with the opposition, “for peace in Venezuela.”
During a parade last Friday celebrating the country’s independence, Maduro said there would be “good news” this week about the negotiations.
Guaido calls Maduro a “usurper” for staying in power after a 2018 election widely dismissed as a sham.
Venezuela is suffering from hyperinflation in an economic crisis that has forced millions to flee. The UN estimates that more than seven million Venezuelans are in need of urgent humanitarian aid.
But Maduro has withstood a US-led pressure campaign that includes sanctions on Venezuela’s crucial oil exports.
© Agence France-Presse