Venezuela Government, Opposition Reopen Barbados Talks

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 25, 2019 shows Venezuela's National Assembly head Juan Guaido (L) speaking to opposition supporters at the Central University of Caracas (UCV) in Caracas, on January 21, 2019 and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro offering a press conference in Caracas, on January 25, 2019. - Venezuela's opposition leader and self-proclaimed "acting president" Juan Guaido stepped up his campaign to oust President Nicolas Maduro on January 25, 2019 calling for a "major demonstration" and rejecting an offer of talks with the socialist leader. (Photo by Yuri CORTEZ / AFP)

CARACAS, Venezuela (AFP) — Representatives for Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido reopened talks in Barbados on Wednesday to resolve the country’s political crisis.

Three weeks ago during previous talks in Barbados, the rival factions agreed to set up a platform for negotiations mediated by Norway, where the first talks were held in May.

“We’ve started another round of meetings under the Oslo mechanism,” Guaido’s envoy and legislator Stalin Gonzalez tweeted.

Venezuela’s Vice President Delcy Rodriguez confirmed in a news conference that Maduro representatives had traveled to Barbados to meet the opposition.

Later in the day, Maduro said in a televised address that the ruling party aims to establish a “platform of permanent dialogue” with the opposition, and proposed bringing in businessmen and social movements.

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

The oil-rich, cash-poor country has been in a deep recession for five years. Shortages of food and medicine are frequent, and public services are progressively failing.

Around a quarter of Venezuela’s 30 million-strong population are in need of aid, according to the United Nations, while 3.3 million people have left the country since the start of 2016.

Guaido and the opposition accused Maduro of having rigged the 2018 poll that saw him re-elected, and they describe the socialist leader as a “usurper.”

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held.

Maduro has refused to resign and says the talks must lead to “democratic coexistence” and an end to what he describes as an attempted “coup” orchestrated by the United States.

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