Officials: Progress made in talks on ending Venezuela crisis

CARACAS, Venezuela — Officials in both Venezuela’s government and opposition reported Thursday that advances have been made in negotiations on breaking the country’s political standoff and said further talks will be held next week.

The upbeat assessment came after a third round of talks between the opposition and President Nicolas Maduro’s administration concluded late Wednesday. Norway is facilitating the negotiations.

The officials declined to give specifics on what was discussed during three days of talks this week on the Caribbean island of Barbados.

But the fact that the sides will continue to meet was taken as a positive sign after months of turmoil that saw opposition leader Juan Guaido attempt to lead a military rebellion to force Maduro from power, prompting the embattled socialist to jail or pursue several opponents.

“It is foreseen that the parties will carry out consultations in order to advance in the negotiations,” Norway’s foreign minister, Ine Eriksen Søreidesaid, said in a statement.

Negotiators have decided to leave the thorny subject of elections until the end of the talks, the officials from both sides told The Associated Press. They agreed to discuss the negotiations only if granted anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about them.

With hardliners on both sides seeking to undermine the talks, Norway cautioned the opposition and government to refrain from spoiling any progress, saying they should show “utmost caution” in any comments about the talks.

The U.S.-backed opposition is demanding early presidential elections, contending that Maduro’s re-election last year was invalid. Powerful socialist party boss Diosdado Cabello, however, said Wednesday that early elections were a non-starter.

Maduro and Guaido are facing off over control of a once-wealthy oil nation mired in a deepening political and economic crisis that is fueling one of the worst outflows of migrants in Latin America’s history.

“Venezuelans need answers and results,” tweeted lawmaker Stalin Gonzalez, who led the opposition’s delegation in Barbados. “Our delegation will consult to move forward and put an end to the suffering of Venezuelans.” He gave no details on the talks.

Few have held out hope for success after several rounds at the negotiating table in recent years have failed to find a solution and Venezuela’s crisis spiraled deeper.

Maduro often says he is willing to negotiate to end hostilities and bring peace to the South American nation, but the opposition accuses the socialist government of using talks as a stalling tactic while continuing to threaten, torture and kill political opponents.

The Vatican extended its institutional prestige in 2016, attempting to mediate a dialogue that the pope later said “went up in smoke,” placing blame on Maduro. A year later, a fresh round of talks in the Dominican Republic also fizzled with no constructive outcome.

Meanwhile, crippling U.S. oil sanctions have exacerbated a crisis marked by food, fuel and medicine shortages. An estimated 4 million people, or more than 10% of Venezuela’s population, have fled the country in recent years, the United Nations says.

Also on Thursday, the Trump administration imposed sanctions on Venezuela’s military intelligence agency, which is accused of torturing to death a navy captain in its custody.

This latest move by the U.S. Treasury Department to pressure Maduro targets Venezuela’s General Directorate of Military Counterintelligence. The sanctions appear to be largely symbolic because they prohibit Americans’ dealings with the agency, which likely has few already.

They stem from the death of Capt. Rafael Acosta, arrested on suspicion of plotting to assassinate Maduro. His attorney says he showed signs of torture before dying after a court appearance.

“The politically motivated arrest and tragic death … was unwarranted and unacceptable,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement.

Mnuchin said the U.S. is committed to ending the Maduro regime’s “inhumane treatment of political opponents, innocent civilians, and members of the military in an effort to suppress dissent.”

The Trump administration has sanctioned dozens of top Venezuelan officials, including Maduro, accusing them of stealing from the once-wealthy nation’s coffers for personal gain while using the funds to repress critics.

The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, Michelle Bachelet, recently published a report accusing Venezuelan officials of human rights abuses, including extrajudicial killings and measures to erode democratic institutions.

Maduro says the United State seeks to replace him with a puppet government headed by Guaido amid an economic war aimed at stealing Venezuela’s vast oil resources.

Just Posted

Thousands of Albertans flock to Westerner Days on last day

Central Albertans took advantage of Sunday’s sunshine and flocked to Westerner Days… Continue reading

Former Humboldt Broncos player who survived bus crash hopes for spot on team

RED DEER, Alta. — A former Humboldt Broncos player whose back was… Continue reading

Man and dog dead after early morning house fire in Lethbridge

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — Officials say a man and a dog are dead… Continue reading

Ottawa fights planned class action against RCMP for bullying, intimidation

OTTAWA — The federal government is fighting a proposed class-action lawsuit against… Continue reading

May says Greens will work with any party that has a serious plan for the climate

OTTAWA — With three months until Canadians vote in the next federal… Continue reading

Fashion Fridays: 5 casual summer dress styles

Kim XO, helps to keep you looking good on Fashion Fridays on the Black Press Media Network

A year later, ceremony commemorates victims of the Danforth shooting

TORONTO — The names of the two people killed in a shooting… Continue reading

Relief in sight for southeastern Canada following weekend heat wave

MONTREAL — Relief is in sight for sweltering Canadians after a weekend… Continue reading

Trudeau’s former right-hand adviser playing role in Liberal election campaign

OTTAWA — With three months to go now until the election, the… Continue reading

Hotels face battle over whether to help US house migrants

DETROIT — There’s a new target in the clash over immigration: hotels.… Continue reading

Thousands visit Illinois governor mansion after renovations

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Thousands of people have visited the Illinois governor’s mansion… Continue reading

Canadian high school science courses behind on climate change, says UBC study

VANCOUVER — High school students in Canada may not be getting the… Continue reading

‘Us and them’: influence of Quebec anglos on decline with new Coalition government

MONTREAL — Last March, Quebec Premier Francois Legault made a mocking remark… Continue reading

Japanese Canadians call on B.C. to go beyond mere apology for historic racism

VANCOUVER — Japanese Canadians across the country are meeting to discuss how… Continue reading

Most Read