Venezuela crisis talks in Oslo break up without agreement

Talks between government and opposition representatives aimed at resolving Venezuela’s political crisis have ended without agreement.

The talks in Norway were the first between the two sides since National Assembly Speaker Juan Guaidó declared himself interim leader in January, arguing that President Nicolás Maduro’s re-election was fraudulent.
Despite the lack of progress both sides said they wanted to continue the talks.
No date has been set for a next round.

What happened at the talks?

A government delegation consisting of Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza, Information Minister Jorge Rodríguez and Miranda State Governor Héctor Rodríguez met an opposition delegation made up of lawmaker Stalin González, former minister Fernando Martínez Mottola and former lawmaker Gerardo Blyde.
The talks were held in the Norwegian capital, Oslo.
In a statement released after they were finished, the Norwegian foreign ministry urged the parties “to show their utmost caution in their comments and statements regarding the process” in order to “preserve a process that can lead to results”.
Little is therefore known about what was discussed but both Mr Guaidó and President Maduro stated that the meeting had ended “without agreement”.

What does the opposition want?

In a statement [in Spanish] released by Mr Guaidó, he listed three points he said were crucial to resolving Venezuela’s crisis:

  • End of the “usurpation” of power by President Maduro
  • Transition government
  • Free elections

The opposition argues that Mr Maduro’s is not the legitimate president of Venezuela because his re-election in 2018 was “neither free nor fair”.
They are calling for a transition government to take over until fresh elections can be held. They are also demanding that the electoral council, which is largely controlled by the government, be reformed to guarantee its independence.

What does the government want?

President Maduro said on Wednesday that he wanted “peace, dialogue, harmony, understanding”.
Earlier this month, he suggested bringing forward parliamentary elections, an offer dismissed as “a farce” by Mr Guaidó, who pointed out that the National Assembly was the only body controlled by the Venezuelan opposition.

What happens next?

Mr Guaidó has called on Venezuelans to take to the streets in new anti-government demonstrations to increase the pressure on President Maduro. “There was no immediate agreement, so the chance that we have today is to remain in the streets,” he told Fox Business Network.
He also again urged the armed forces to switch their allegiance to him.
Despite the willingness expressed by both sides to continue talks under Norway’s auspices, it is not clear if and when another meeting will take place.

How did it come to this?

Mr Guaidó has been recognised as interim leader by more than 50 nations, including the US and most in Latin America but Mr Maduro retains the loyalty of most of the military and important allies such as China and Russia.
On 30 April, Mr Guaidó led a failed attempt to spark a military rebellion against Mr Maduro, which the latter said was part of a US-orchestrated coup against his government.
Under the Maduro government, the economy has collapsed and shortages of food and medicines have become widespread. According to the United Nations refugee agency (UNHCR), there are currently about 3.7 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela worldwide.

What’s the situation on the ground?

In parts of the country, petrol has become scarce and drivers queue for days at petrol station to fill up their tanks. There are also frequent blackouts.

There have also been protests by medical personnel and concerned relatives after at least six children died in less than a month at a hospital in Caracas. The children’s families say that severe shortages of medicines and equipment were to blame for their deaths.
The government blames US sanctions for the shortages and the economic collapse while the opposition says that the mismanagement and corruption of consecutive socialist governments is behind it.
President Nicolás Maduro
President Nicolás Maduro, by Eneas De Troya

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