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Guaidó, Maduro Sign Pandemic Agreement. Could It Lead To Larger Venezuela Negotiation?

Ariana Cubillos
Venezuelans wearing protective masks in Caracas this week.

For a year-and-a-half now, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó have been at political — if not actual — war. But now they’ve actually shaken hands on something.

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The one-page agreement, signed this week by Maduro and Guaidó, is meant to help Venezuela battle the COVID-19 pandemic. It says the regime and the opposition will work together to find funds for supplies like coronavirus test kits and protective medical gear.

But what’s most remarkable is that the two sides managed to sign an accord about anything. Last year the U.S. and almost 60 other countries recognized Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president. But Maduro refuses to step down or hold new elections.

Venezuela watchers say the pandemic agreement may be a sign that Maduro’s authoritarian socialist regime and Guaidó’s interim government can negotiate a larger solution to the sometimes violent political standoff.

That’s more urgent than ever since the pandemic has only deepened Venezuela’s economic collapse and humanitarian crisis. The U.S. continues to issue economic sanctions against the regime.

Some conservative Venezuelan exiles condemned the pandemic pact, saying any negotiation and agreement with Maduro legitimizes, what they call, his dictatorship.