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Mexico talks: Venezuela govt., opposition agree on pandemic response, disputed area

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
The head of the Venezuelan government delegation, Jorge Rodriguez (C), speaks to the press at a hotel in Mexico City, on September 6, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

The Venezuelan government has signed partial agreements with opposition representatives during talks in Mexico, in a move praised by President Nicolas Maduro as "a success for Venezuelans,” after years of political crisis in the Latin American country.

Head government negotiator Jorge Rodriguez announced on Tuesday that two partial agreements had been signed during the second day of dialogue with the opposition.

Areas of agreement were related to social measures, particularly on those affected by COVID-19, as well as a territorial dispute concerning Guyana's Essequibo region.

“The parties agreed to establish mechanisms for restoring and obtaining resources to meet the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, including those from multilateral organizations," the two sides said in a joint statement.

They also agreed Venezuela has a "historic and inalienable" claim to Guyana's Essequibo region, the focus of a century-old dispute, according to Rodriguez.

"We agreed in a profound declaration of support, respect for the history and the right that our homeland has over the territory of Guyana,” he said.

Venezuelan prosecutors have previously accused US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido of treason for plotting to hand over the region to multinational companies.

Maduro said on Sunday that the negotiations would not result in "impunity," in an apparent warning to the opposition figure, who faces multiple accusations in Venezuela.

Guaido sparked a political crisis after unilaterally declaring himself “interim president” in January 2019.

Maduro welcomes agreements

President Maduro took to Twitter on Tuesday, describing the outcome of the talks as "a success for Venezuelans.”

Guaido, also reacted to the agreements, saying that progress on the humanitarian front would help to save lives in the country.

“We are clear that the tragedy in our country requires not only urgent attention, but also fundamental solutions for which we are fighting," he tweeted.

The next round of talks, mediated by Norway, would focus on economic and social measures, including special drawing rights with the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

“We have a long way to go, we have a lot of work to do, we have many issues to discuss, but today we have shown ... that we can say the hardest things to ourselves,” Rodriguez said, adding that they will return to the negotiating table in Mexico at the end of the month.

The development in negotiations came after the main opposition alliance announced last week that it would end a three-year election boycott and take part in mayoral and gubernatorial polls in November.

Opposition figure Freddy Guevara called on Maduro’s adversaries last week to seek “coexistence” with the ruling Socialist Party rather than attempting to force a change in government.

Opposition alliance, the so-called Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), boycotted the 2018 presidential vote, which Maduro won, and the 2020 legislative elections, in which the opposition lost control of Congress.

While Caracas aims to ease international sanctions on the Venezuelan nation, the opposition says it aims to use the talks to secure guarantees for free and fair regional elections to be held in the fall.

Washington has imposed several rounds of sanctions against Venezuela aimed at ousting President Maduro and replacing him with Guaido. The sanctions, which include illegal confiscation of Venezuelan assets abroad and an economic blockade, have caused enormous suffering to millions of people in the country.

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