Venezuela: Dialogue Resumes in Barbados as Guaido Vows to Return to US-led Military Pact

Self-proclaimed “Interim President” walked back promises not to sit down with the government.

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The Venezuelan government and opposition will hold another round of dialogue this week. (Xinhua / Japan Times)
The Venezuelan government and opposition will hold another round of dialogue this week. (Xinhua / Japan Times)
By Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz
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Caracas, July 8, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Talks between the Maduro government and the opposition are to resume this week in Barbados, the Norwegian government has confirmed.

“The parties will meet this week in Barbados to move forward in the search for an agreed-upon and constitutional solution for the country. The negotiations will be carried out in a continuous and efficient manner,” the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced on Sunday afternoon.

According to a statement tweeted by Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez, an official delegation arrived on the Caribbean island on Monday to continue the dialogue process started in Norway in May. At the time of writing there has been no information disclosed on who will take part in the Barbados talks or the agenda of the summit.

For his part, self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido’s office likewise confirmed a meeting with “representatives of the usurper regime… in order to establish a negotiation for the end of the dictatorship.”

Two previous rounds of talks mediated by the Norwegian government were held in Oslo, with Norway’s foreign minister praising the “willingness” of both sides to move forward with dialogue.

Nonetheless, Guaido came under fire at the time from hardline opposition leaders for sitting down with the government, leading the National Assembly president to rule out future talks.

Guaido reiterated his refusal to return to the negotiating table as recently as July 2, telling reporters following the death in state custody of retired Navy Captain Rafael Acosta, “it is never going to be a good moment to mediate [...] with kidnappers, human rights violators, and a dictatorship.” Acosta had been arrested days earlier for alleged links to a coup attempt.

The opposition leader has again faced sharp criticism for sending a delegation to Barbados, with former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma accusing him of “playing with the good faith of the people.”

Guaido’s confirmation that the opposition would return to the negotiating table came hours after an announcement, via Twitter, that the opposition-controlled National Assembly is going to seek Venezuela’s reincorporation into the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR).

TIAR is mutual defense pact involving sixteen countries in the hemisphere, and hardline opposition supporters have pushed for Venezuela’s entry as a possible legal justification for US military action.

The new dialogue and TIAR announcements came on the heels of President Maduro appointing General Alexis Rodriguez Cabello as the commander of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB), replacing Major General Jesus Sanchez Chourio. Rodriguez Cabello served since 2017 as commander of the Central Strategic Integral Defense Region (REDI), which controls troop deployments in the capital district and neighboring states.

The appointments were made during a graduation ceremony for new National Guard officers. Likewise, Major General Manuel Bernal Martínez was appointed as the new chief of the Bolivarian Militia, after Major General Carlos Leal Telleria left the post to become food minister.