Venezuela Crisis: ‘I Am Very Optimistic’, Says Maduro After Talks With Opposition

Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro


Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro said Monday he was “optimistic” after dialogue between his government and the opposition resumed in Barbados.

The South American nation was plunged into political turmoil in January when National Assembly speaker Juan Guaido declared himself acting president in a direct challenge to Maduro’s authority.

The opposition leader is recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries but has been unable to dislodge Venezuela’s socialist leader, who is backed by Russia, China and Cuba.

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Delegations from both sides arrived in Barbados Monday morning to revive discussions after a previous round in Norway petered out.

“I am very optimistic… Today they had a five-hour session, and I think that step by step, with strategic patience, we can find a path to peace,” Maduro said in a broadcast on the state television channel VTV.

Without giving details, he said that a six-point agenda was being discussed with “the whole country in mind.”

“If you work with goodwill and there is no American interventionism, I am sure that we will reach an agreement,” said Maduro, who blames the United States for fanning the crisis.

The Barbados talks will be the third round since the Oslo talks in May, although Guaido had originally said last Tuesday there were no plans to re-open talks with Maduro’s “murderous dictatorship” following the death of an officer in custody over an alleged coup plot.

The suspicious death of retired naval officer Rafael Acosta Arevalo had sparked international condemnation.

Guaido said Sunday he wants the talks to lead them towards Maduro’s departure from the presidency he has held since 2013 to a transitional government, and then “free elections with international observers”.

 Ravaged by crises 

Some members of the opposition oppose the Barbados talks, fearing they may reinvigorate Maduro, but Enrique Marquez, vice president of Venezuela’s opposition-controlled National Assembly, said they are the best option.

“A violent solution… could generate loss of governance even for a new government,” he told AFP.

Along with the negotiations in Barbados, Guaido had a closed-door meeting on Monday in the capital Caracas with Enrique Iglesias, the European Union’s special advisor for Venezuela.

Afterwards, Iglesias met with Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez.

“Iglesias has confirmed his commitment to the dialogue process,” Rodriguez said on Twitter.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been ravaged by five years of recession marked by shortages of food, medicine and other basic necessities, and the economic woes have been exacerbated by the political crisis.

Delegations representing the Venezuelan rivals met face-to-face in Oslo for the first time in late May, in a process begun two weeks earlier under Norwegian auspices to find a solution to the nation’s multiple crises.

Maduro has repeatedly said that the dialogue will continue with the opposition “for peace in Venezuela.”

Guaido has called Maduro a “usurper” for staying in power after a 2018 election widely dismissed as a sham.

Meanwhile, Panamanian President Laurentino Cortizo stressed in a TV interview that military intervention is not the solution to the Venezuelan crisis, and offered his country’s assistance in reaching a negotiated solution.


Maduro Has ‘No Intention’ Of Negotiating, Says Spain

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro


Spain’s Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said Wednesday Venezuela’s leader Nicolas Maduro had “no intention of negotiating” but rejected any foreign military intervention in the economically-strapped country.

His comments come as Juan Guaido, Venezuela’s opposition leader who declared himself interim president and is recognised by about 50 countries including Spain, is openly defying Maduro by trying to bring in humanitarian aid, to no avail so far.

Maduro “has no intention of negotiating” and has used past mediations between his government and the opposition as “a tool to gain time and remain in power,” Sanchez told parliament.

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He “does not want sincere negotiations,” said Spain’s socialist leader, who earlier this month recognised Guaido as interim leader of Venezuela after Maduro rejected pressure to call snap general elections.

According to Sanchez, Venezuela’s presidential elections in May 2018, which were largely boycotted by the opposition, were not “free, fair or credible, and therefore Nicolas Maduro does not have any democratic legitimacy.”

Despite this, Sanchez firmly rejected any foreign military intervention to topple Maduro, which the United States has touted as a possibility.

We express “our rejection of any non-peaceful solution, and particularly any foreign military intervention in Venezuela,” he told lawmakers.

“There are some mistakes of the past that must not be committed again.”

The US has been criticised for its past involvement in regime change in Latin America.

Sanchez said calling “free, democratic, transparent elections with full guarantees” is the “only possible solution to the deep crisis that the country is experiencing.”


FG Begs ASUU To Shelve Strike, Calls For Negotiation

'Call Off This Strike', Education Minister Begs ASUU
Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, speaks to reporters in Abuja on November 5, 2018.


The Federal Government has appealed to the leadership of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) to shelve its industrial action and seek negotiation.

Minister of Education, Adamu Adamu, made the appeal on Monday while addressing journalists in Abuja.

“I want to use this opportunity to appeal to ASUU to put off this strike in the name of the country and in view of what the situation is,” he said.

According to the Minister, the well-being of the education sector of the country was solely dependent on oil-generated revenues of the government.

While reiterating the Federal Government’s commitment to easing the pains of the striking lecturers, he called on ASUU to resume talks.

He added, “As Minister of Education I feel the pain, I share your concern and I am willing to go to any mile so that together we can change the narrative for the better of this country.

“Come let us continue the talk that we already started. I am optimistic that dialogue will produce better results. For us to negotiate under the pressure of strike may end up producing the kind of agreement we had in 2009 which almost all stakeholders have agreed are not easily implementable.”

ASUU, on Monday, embarked on an indefinite strike after its National Executive Council (NEC) meeting held in Akure, Ondo State, on Sunday.

ASUU’s current strike is hinged on delays in implementing the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) the government agreed to in 2017, including to compel the government to conclude the renegotiation of other agreements also collectively reached in 2009.

The national president of ASUU, Biodun Ogunyemi, while announcing the commencement of the strike, re-echoed the insincerity of government in meeting their demands.

FG’s Meeting With Striking Health Workers Ends In Deadlock

There appears not to be any headway in the negotiation between the Federal Government and the striking health workers in the country.

At the end of their reconciliation meeting in Abuja, which was chaired by the Federal Minister of Labour and Employment, Chris Ngige and Health Minister, Issac Adewole, both parties differed over the legality of the ongoing industrial action by the Joint Health Sector Union (JOHESU).

While the Minister of Labour criticised the health workers for not following the provisions of existing labour laws, the union insists that no labour law has been violated by their action.

“Workers that are in Energy, Medicine, and Allied medical professionals and those that their action will cause danger to health are the people that are called essential services. For those who are in essential services, Doctors, pharmacists, nurses, technologists and those who have anything to do with the hospital are on essential service.

“So, when those who are in essential services go on strike, like the doctors did about four weeks ago, and you following suit, it gives us a lot of worry, especially when those strikes are not done according to the labour law,” Ngige said.

The Union in response disagreed with the Labour Minister saying, they violated no law with them saying, “We waited patiently for 30 days. We notified the government. After 30 days, we still gave 7 days and that was the final ultimatum.”

The union is demanding among other issues, that the government pay earned salary arrears of their members.