Venezuela's government and the US-backed opposition forces have formally agreed to work together on terms for the 2024 presidential election, paving the way for possible relief from cruel economic sanctions imposed by Washington against the nation led by President Nicolas Maduro.
Representatives from the two sides met in Barbados on Tuesday and reached a broad consensus for the election scheduled to take place in the second half of next year with international observers - including from the European Union and United Nations - overseeing the vote.
Jorge Rodriguez, head of the Caracas delegation, alongside his counterpart in the opposition, Gerardo Blyde, signed the agreement.
Rodriguez said at a press conference after the signing that candidates from all political spectrums are allowed to participate in the election according to Venezuelan law, "as long as they meet the established requirements".
"This is the first step of a much broader agreement that is in full evolution, construction, and execution," he clarified. "If you received an administrative inhabilitation...from the controller general of the republic you cannot be a candidate, I want to clarify that."
Speaking before Rodriguez, Blyde had said that the banned candidates could "recover their rights" and said to be optimistic about a route to remove political bans that some opposition leaders have.
The opposition has said the bans, handed down by the controller general, are unlawful.
Prior to Tuesday's announcement, multiple sources said that the US was prepared to ease the sanctions slapped on the once oil-rich and currently cash-strapped OPEC country if Washington was satisfied Caracas had given the opposition a fair chance to take part in the election.
US President Joe Biden's administration had said it would lift some long-standing sanctions in exchange for democratic concessions from Caracas. However, following the Barbados agreement, it was yet unclear if the crippling US sanctions would be lifted.
"We welcome the Venezuelan-led political agreement reached today in Barbados," according to a joint statement from the US, EU, Britain, and Canada, calling it a necessary step toward the "restoration of democracy in Venezuela."
However, the statement also reiterated calls for the release of political prisoners, independence of the electoral process, freedom of expression, and respect for human rights, issues that were not covered in Tuesday's agreement.
In the meantime, Washington's maximum pressure campaign against Caracas has remained in place since the time of former President Donald Trump.
Over the past decade, the US economic sanction banning Caracas from using its oil reserves, which are the country’s most valuable asset, has plunged the socialist-led South American country into a heavy crisis, forcing millions of Venezuelans to leave the country. Maduro, president since 2013, is expected to run for re-election but has not yet formalized his candidacy.
Press TV’s website can also be accessed at the following alternate addresses: