Venezuela: ‘Progress’ Reported in Gov’t-Opposition Talks as US Sanctions Counter-Intelligence Agency

The agenda of the talks has not been disclosed but the topic of elections is reportedly being left for last.


Caracas, July 12, 2019 ( – A new round of Norway-mediated talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition concluded in Barbados on Wednesday.

Norway’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs gave an update on the negotiation efforts Thursday, urging both parties to exercise caution in their public statements.

“As part of this process, a negotiation table has been established that will work in a continuous and efficient manner to reach an agreed-upon solution within the framework of the Constitution. It is foreseen that the parties will carry out consultations in order to advance in the negotiations,” the statement read.

Associated Press quoted unnamed government and opposition officials speaking of “advances” made in the negotiations. The officials offered no details on the content of the talks, only that the subject of elections was being left until the end.

Venezuelan Communications Minister Jorge Rodriguez tweeted on Wednesday evening that “another round of the permanent dialogue table for peace” had come to a close. Rodriguez thanked the Norwegian and Barbados governments for their efforts.

For his part, President Nicolas Maduro said on Thursday that three “intense days” of talks had taken place in Barbados. He explained that there was an “integral agenda” with six topics being discussed with the opposition and that there was an agreement not to disclose its contents. Maduro added that talks would continue in the upcoming weeks, while calling for “strategic patience” from the people and government representatives in the process.

Self-proclaimed “Interim President” Juan Guaido had confirmed that the opposition was attending the Barbados talks, but has offered no comment on the “negotiation table” being established. National Assembly Second Vice President Stalin Gonzalez, one of the opposition representatives, tweeted that the opposition delegation would “make consultations to move forward and bring an end to Venezuelans’ suffering.”

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.

Under pressure from opposition stalwarts to his right, Guaido had ruled out the possibility of further talks as recently as July 2, only to reverse course last week and send a delegation to Barbados.

On Tuesday, former Caracas Metropolitan Mayor Antonio Ledezma accused Guaido of “dialoguing in Barbados while [the government] is torturing” and demanded the self-declared interim president authorize foreign military intervention.

On June 29, retired Navy Captain Rafael Acosta Arevalo died in state custody allegedly as a result of torture. The Attorney General’s office has opened an investigation and two National Guard officers have been arrested and charged with manslaughter.

In response, the US Treasury Department announced Thursday new sanctions targeting Venezuela’s Military Counterintelligence Division (DGCIM), freezing any direct or indirect assets it might have in the US.

“The politically motivated arrest and tragic death of Captain Rafael Acosta was unwarranted and unacceptable,” said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.

Acosta had been arrested on June 26 for his alleged involvement in a coup plot that included the assassination of President Maduro and other high-ranking figures.