Venezuela, US to Resume Talks Ahead of Presidential Vote

(Bloomberg) -- Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro said his government will resume talks this month with the Biden administration ahead of the July 28 presidential elections.

Most Read from Bloomberg

Talks resuming next Wednesday aim at reaching new agreements to meet the conditions of a Qatar-brokered accord on electoral guarantees in exchange for sanctions relief, Maduro said Monday evening during his television show.

In a statement, a National Security Council spokeswoman said the US welcomes dialogue and is committed to democracy in Venezuela, without confirming details of talks with Maduro.

Direct talks have been stalled since a secret meeting between the parties in Mexico in early April. The Venezuelan government said that during that last encounter it had pointed out the failure of the Biden administration to comply with a scheduled lifting of sanctions. The US later reinstated the sanctions as Maduro failed to comply with an electoral agreement sealed with the opposition.

Maduro said that National Assembly President Jorge Rodríguez and Miranda state Governor Héctor Rodríguez will represent Venezuela during this new meeting. The dialogue will be “public,” he said, “to prevent speculation.”

The resumption of talks between the two governments is positive, said Omar Barboza, head of the Venezuela opposition coalition known as the Unitary Platform. The group, which has ties to opposition presidential candidate Edmundo González and prominent leader María Corina Machado, stands ready to get its delegates involved in the discussions if invited, he said on a webcast.

Maduro is running for reelection against former diplomat Edmundo González —a stand-by for Machado — who according to most polls leads the race by 20 percentage points. Still, Maduro remains convinced he can beat González at the ballot box and according to people with direct knowledge of his plans has alternatives to hold on to power if he’s miscalculated.

Venezuela’s government in late May withdrew an invitation to European Union election monitors, reducing the chances that the international community will accept the results of the election. On the domestic front, the government has stepped up repression of political dissent, issuing arrest warrants against Machado’s aides and allies and disqualifying provincial leaders.

(Updates with Venezuela opposition comment in sixth paragraph.)

Most Read from Bloomberg Businessweek

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.