CARACAS – Venezuela’s opposition, which stumbled to a lopsided defeat in regional elections last month despite the nation’s political turmoil and a severe economic crisis, is ready to resume talks with President Nicolas Maduro’s administration, a lawmaker and government opponent said Thursday.
“We want to announce to Venezuela that we in Democratic Unity are ready,” Luis Florido, head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly’s foreign-policy committee, said in a press conference, referring to the opposition MUD coalition.
Florido said the priority was to establish “an effective international negotiation to bring clear solutions to Venezuelans,” above all on the electoral front.
Maduro’s leftist administration and the opposition in September explored a possible resumption of dialogue in the Dominican Republic, but the MUD backed out after accusing the government of reneging on its commitments.
In October, the opposition was left in disarray when the ruling United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) defied the polls to win a vast majority of governor’s offices (18 out of 23).
The president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled legislature, Julio Borges, said in an exclusive interview with EFE last month that those elections had been marred by irregularities and further eroded people’s confidence in the voting process.
In that regard, Florido said the electoral issue was key to resolving the crisis, although he added it also was necessary to address the country’s “humanitarian emergency,” referring to shortages of medicine and basic foodstuffs amid a steep recession and sky-high inflation.
He said the opposition also was demanding the release of political prisoners and the restoration of the powers of the unicameral National Assembly, which has been sidelined by the recently installed plenipotentiary National Constituent Assembly, a body made up exclusively of Maduro’s allies.
Florido said the opposition was waiting to hear from the Dominican Republic, the government and a group of guarantor countries with a view to setting a date for the start of full negotiations.
Vatican-mediated negotiations late last year broke down when the opposition accused the Maduro administration of reneging on agreements.
The opposition, however, is divided over the issue of resuming talks with the government.
The political organization led by prominent opposition leader Maria Corina Machado has rejected the latest attempt at negotiations as a “fraudulent dialogue designed to benefit the regime and deceive the country.”