Venezuela government, opposition reopen Barbados talks

Caracas (AFP) –


Representatives for Venezuela President Nicolas Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaido have arrived in Barbados to continue talks to resolve the country's political crisis.

Last week, the rival factions agreed to set up a platform for ongoing negotiations, mediated by Norway, after three days of talks in the Caribbean island.

"We're continuing with President Nicolas Maduro's fundamental approach: a permanent peace dialogue ... to find a constitutional and democratic resolution to the political controversies," the government's Communication Minister, Jorge Rodriguez, who is accompanied by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza in Barbados, said in a video published on Monday.

Envoys representing Guaido arrived on Sunday.

His press office said in a tweet they were aiming to "achieve the change that would end the suffering of Venezuelans."

Following last week's talks, Norway announced that both sides had agreed to "work in a continuous and efficient manner to reach an agreed-upon solution within the framework of the Constitution."

The Barbados talks are an extension of the first round of negotiations in Oslo in May.

Crisis-wracked Venezuela has been mired in a political impasse since January when Guaido proclaimed himself acting president, quickly receiving the support of more than 50 countries.

The oil-rich, cash-poor country has been in a deep recession for five years. Shortages of food and medicine are frequent, and public services are progressively failing.

Around a quarter of Venezuela's 30-million-strong population are in need of aid, according to the United Nations. Three million people have left the country since the start of 2016.

Guaido and the opposition accused Maduro of having rigged the 2018 poll that saw him re-elected, and they describe the socialist leader as a "usurper."

They want him to stand down so new elections can be held.

That's something the regime has so far refused to countenance.

"We're following the words of Pope Francis so that we can resolve the controversies and difficulties in this dialogue ... by peaceful means," said Rodriguez.