CARACAS – The Venezuelan opposition said on Monday that the “basis has been laid” to arrive at agreements with the Nicolas Maduro government in the bilateral dialogue to resume on Dec. 15 in the Dominican Republic to seek a way out of the crisis besetting the oil-producing country.
“Although there was no agreement at the end (of the first round of talks on the weekend), the basis has been laid so that in the next (round) ... agreements favoring the country can be reached; at least that is the wish of the Venezuelan people, I repeat, who want change,” said Luis Florido, a member of the opposition’s delegation, at a press conference.
Florido called upon Venezuelans “to understand” that the negotiation process is “delicate” and that he expects the opposition committee that traveled to Santo Domingo to be “respected.”
The member of the Popular Will party said that the meeting with the Venezuelan government in Santo Domingo “interests everyone: those who are in agreement, those who are not and those who, with reason, are skeptical.”
Florido said that during the two days of meetings, the atmosphere between the parties was “of complete respect,” but, he added, “also very firm” on the part of the delegation from the MUD opposition alliance.
“The issues, the needs, including the different possibilities in important areas such as the humanitarian crisis being experience by Venezuelans, have been raised,” he added.
Julio Borges, another member of the opposition committee and current president of the National Assembly, said in an interview with Union Radio that this “opportunity” for agreements with the government in various areas must be “viewed with moderation.”
“Every effort must be made so that this comes out well ... because it is the commitment that all of us must have to the country,” he said.
Borges said that “Venezuela’s problem” is reaching “almost global dimensions” and “an awareness” exists among the international community that in the coming months a presidential election will be held there.
“And nobody wants that opportunity to be lost, but rather for it to have every guarantee” of success, he said.
Present as observers in Santo Domingo for the bilateral talks were former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the foreign ministers of Chile, Nicaragua and Mexico, Heraldo Muñoz, Dennis Moncada and Luis Videgaray, respectively.
The opposition came to the table with the demand that a humanitarian channel be opened for the delivery of scarce food and medicine, the suspended responsibilities of the opposition-controlled Parliament be restored, the next elections be held under international monitoring by the Organization of American States and other entities and that everyone it deems to be “political prisoners” be released by the government.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said Monday that the government will not reach any agreement with the opposition or call elections if international sanctions against Caracas are not withdrawn.
“Venezuela is not going to hold an election or sign any agreement with the ... opposition until the ... sanctions ... are lifted,” he said after the first round of bilateral talks between the government and the opposition concluded. The talks are scheduled to resume on Dec. 15 to discuss the conditions under which the 2018 presidential election will be held.