CARACAS – The Venezuelan regime and a minority opposition group announced on Monday they had reached an agreement that includes the return of the more than 50 ruling-party lawmakers to the parliament and the formation of a new electoral council.
The document setting out these points was presented by Communication and Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez, Vice President Delcy Rodriguez and opposition lawmaker Timoteo Zambrano – the leader of the Cambiemos party, which holds six of the opposition’s 109 seats in the National Assembly.
Zambrano was accompanied by former presidential candidate Claudio Fermin and the leader of the Movimiento al Socialismo party Felipe Mujica, as well as representatives of the Bandera Roja and Avanzada Progresista parties.
Although the AP has two seats in the legislature, at least one of its lawmakers, Julio Cesar Reyes, confirmed to EFE that he did not agree with his party’s decision.
The announcement of this renewed dialogue came less than 24 hours after the speaker of the assembly, Juan Guaido – who is recognized by over 50 countries as Venezuela’s interim president –, announced the official end of the Norway-backed talks with the regime of Nicolas Maduro, 40 days after the latter walked away from them.
According to Zambrano, who was in charge of presenting the agreement reached with the regime, the talks between this opposition minority and the regime had been underway for two or three months, during which negotiations were also held with Guaido’s representatives.
The agreement states that the more than 50 members of the Chavista coalition will return “immediately” to the parliament, almost three years after they left the legislature to form part of the National Constituent Assembly, a parallel legislature made up entirely of pro-government members.
In addition, the deal says that a new National Electoral Council will be formed soon, as the current one has been constantly questioned and accused of pro-government bias by the opposition.
The document also provides for the release of political prisoners.
In order to address the country’s humanitarian crisis – according to the United Nations, one in four Venezuelans are in dire need of humanitarian assistance –, the agreement will promote the trade of oil for food, medicine and services.
The details of the agreement were made known at an event held at the headquarters of the Venezuelan foreign ministry before members of the diplomatic bodies accredited in the South American country.
Diplomatic sources explained to EFE that the ambassadors of European Union countries withdrew from the event after learning what it was about, as the European nations are in favor of the peace talks promoted by Oslo.
Maduro, after the signing of the deal with the opposition group, said that doors were open to resuming the Barbados talks in a consensual manner.
“The Bolivarian forces will be there negotiating and understanding,” Maduro said. “All the doors are open! All doors!”
Guaido, on his part, expressed his rejection of this announcement and proposed to instead convene a Governing Council “with all sectors,” including the armed forces, to address the severe political and economic crisis that the nation has been facing since January.