Venezuelan leaders will have a meeting in Barbados this week in hopes of finding a solution to the political crisis that has gripped the country for more than five months.
In a statement issued late Sunday, Juan Guaidó, the head of congress and the man that Washington and 50 other nations recognize as the country’s sole president, said the meeting, promoted by the government of Norway, was necessary to avoid more bloodshed.
“We don’t have unlimited time. Each day that passes, the situation gets worse,” Guaidó said in a statement. “We need a solution now.”
The Nicolás Maduro administration also confirmed that the parties would be meeting sometime this week to find a “constitutional” solution to the crisis.
Talks were expected to begin last week, but Guaidó called them off after it came to light that a Venezuelan Navy official was tortured to death while in state custody.
During a large anti-Maduro march on Friday, Guaidó tried to assuage fears among many in the opposition that the regime would use talks as a stalling tactic, as they have in the past.
“Do you think I’m a pendejo?” he asked the crowd. “Do you think we would go to any venue and confront the dictatorship to let them buy time, let them make fools of us? Each venue we go to is to confront them.”
He also said that any talks would be focused on forcing Maduro to step down and holding free and fair elections.
Guaidó, 35, rose to prominence in January when he said it was his constitutional duty, as the head of congress, to assume the presidency because Maduro had clung to power through fraudulent elections in 2018. Despite having broad international backing and popular support, Guaidó has very little real power in the country.
Maduro, 57, claims last year’s vote gives him the right to rule through 2025 and accuses Guaidó of trying to illegally seize power with Washington’s help.
But the Maduro regime is under increased international pressure. Last week, the United Nations’ Human Rights division released a report saying that at least 5,287 people had been murdered in 2018 by Maduro’s security forces, calling it a “shockingly high” number of extrajudicial killings.
Venezuela’s grinding political, economic and humanitarian crisis have forced more than five million people to flee the country in recent years, and some reports suggest that number could exceed 8 million by the end of 2020.
© 2019 Miami Herald
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