Guaido Urges Venezuela Election Deal and Sanctions as Spur
(Bloomberg) -- Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido on Tuesday called for an electoral accord with Nicolas Maduro’s government, using sanctions relief as an incentive for the regime’s participation.
The accord must have international support and focus on holding new presidential and legislative elections, after the opposition boycotted previous votes for lacking safeguards to keep balloting free and fair, Guaido said Tuesday.
“We must reach an agreement to save Venezuela,” Guaido said in a video published on his social media. In it he proposed “to offer incentives to the regime including the progressive lifting of sanctions.”
In recent weeks, Maduro has adopted a more conciliatory posture, offering rare signs of goodwill to Washington in his openness to receiving the World Food Programme in Venezuela, moving six Citgo executives from prison to house arrest and accepting two opposition figures in the country’s five- member electoral council.
Following Caracas’s gestures, the U.S. is currently reviewing its Venezuela sanctions, a Biden administration official said Tuesday, while top U.S. officials are serving as channels of communication between the two governments.
More than two years since being recognized as Venezuela’s legitimate leader by the U.S. and more than 50 nations, Guaido has made scant progress in addressing the country’s political deadlock.
Failing to make headway, others have stepped in, with segments of the opposition and NGOs involved for months in negotiations with the Government for the appointment of the new Electoral Council.
Tuesday’s announcement represents a departure for Guaido, given the open call for negotiation, demanding that all sectors of the opposition be included. He also said the talks shouldn’t just focus on the regional and municipal elections to be held this year as that that would only strengthen Maduro and divide the opposition.
“The dictatorship will try to continue to create parallel and partial negotiations. They will seek to divide us by calling regional and municipal elections, posing us a false dilemma, with the new Electoral Council that we do not recognize,” Guaido said.
Late Tuesday, Maduro took to state television and said that Guaido proposed talks because he has been left out of recent negotiations, including the one that led to the appointment of a new electoral body. “Welcome, let him join the dialogs that exist, but he shouldn’t believe that he is the supreme head of a country that does not recognize him.”
Guaido, the president of the opposition-led National Assembly, also proposed that the eventual deal include international election observers, accepting humanitarian aid and vaccines against Covid-19, and release of political prisoners.
After Guaido’s announcement, Electoral Council President Pedro Calzadilla said that elections for new governors and mayors this year will be held on the same date. He said the body will work to improve guarantees, including a review of bans preventing opposition figures from running for office and aim for a “broad” international observation program.
With his proposal, Guaido is seeking to restore some of his lost prominence, said Luis Vicente Leon, director of the Caracas-based pollster Datanalisis.
“Guaido wraps up his proposal in a new call for negotiations and he relates that with sanctions because it is the only instrument of pressure the opposition seems to have,” he said. “Even if it doesn’t control it directly.”
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