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Venezuelan Regime, Opposition Start High-Stakes November Election Talks In Mexico

Venezuelan regime representative Jorge Rodriguez (left) and opposition delegate Gerardo Blyde Perez (right) shake hands last month in Mexico to begin a new political dialogue as Norwegian diplomat Dan Nylander looks on
Marco Ugarte
/
AP
Venezuelan regime representative Jorge Rodriguez (left) and opposition delegate Gerardo Blyde Perez (right) shake hands last month in Mexico to begin a new political dialogue as Norwegian diplomat Dan Nylander looks on.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro's authoritarian regime and the Juan Guaidó-led opposition are at the negotiating table — an advance and setback for both.

Venezuela’s authoritarian regime and its U.S.-backed political opposition returned to the negotiating table Friday in Mexico — where the stakes now aren’t regime change, but election reform.

After representatives from the two sides met in Mexico City last month to begin a dialogue, the South American country's main political opposition parties agreed this week to take part in elections in November for mayors and state governors.

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They had boycotted official elections since socialist President Nicolás Maduro won re-election in 2018 in what was widely considered a rigged vote.

To ensure a more transparent vote in November, the delegations from Maduro’s regime and the opposition started new talks in Mexico City. Juan Guaidó — the opposition leader the United States and almost 60 other nations recognize as Venezuela’s legitimate president — sent a video in support of the negotiations but did not attend.

The talks, mediated by Norway, represent both an advance and a setback for both regime and opposition.

Maduro has been forced to negotiate more credible elections in exchange for the U.S. loosening economic sanctions, which include a de facto U.S. embargo on oil imports from Venezuela.

And election reform could eventually lead to the ballot-box ouster of Maduro and the socialists. They are widely blamed for the collapse of Venezuela’s economy and democracy — the worst humanitarian crisis in modern South American history — and are accused by the United Nations of grave human rights abuses.

The opposition, meanwhile, has had to drop its long-held insistence that Maduro step down before it would take part in new elections.

The two sides had initiated similar talks two years ago, also brokered by Norway, but they fell apart in large part because of objections from then-President Trump's administration.