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Venezuela and opposition begin peace talks in Barbados

THE Venezuelan government and US-backed opposition are resuming talks aimed at ending the country’s political crisis, Information Minister Jorge Rodriguez said yesterdayday.

He posted on Twitter that he and the rest of the government delegation had arrived for negotiations in Barbados, where several days of talks took place last week.

“We have arrived at generous Barbados to continue the dialogue of peace,” Mr Rodriguez wrote. 

"Together with Pope Francis, we hope that all of us will commit our efforts to the construction of a peaceful mechanism for the settlement of disputes and the aggression against our worthy people will be deactivated.”

Negotiations between the adversaries have collapsed in previous years, particularly earlier this year when US President Donald Trump's administration ramped up its efforts to overthrow the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro. 

Self-declared “interim president” Juan Guaido contends that Mr Maduro’s re-election last year was invalid.

He has tried several times to spark a US-backed military coup against the government but failed to gain much support beyond Venezuela’s wealthy elite. 

The sanctions imposed on Venezuela, designed to dislodge Mr Maduro, by the US and European Union since 2017 have taken a heavy toll on the country, sinking it deeper into an economic and humanitarian crisis. 

In January, former United Nations rapporteur Alfred de Zayas likened the economic sanctions to a “medieval siege” designed “to bring countries to their knees.”

Last week, the Trump administration imposed further punitive measures on the Venezuelan military intelligence agency, which it accused of torturing to death naval officer Rafael Acosta in a military hospital last month. Venezuelan authorities are investigating the death.

However, those sanctions appear to be largely symbolic because they prohibit US dealings with the agency, which are likely to be negligible already.

Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said on Monday that the talks between Venezuela’s government and opposition were a priority, but that they should not be a “shield against sanctions” for Captain Acosta’s killers and others supposedly involved in violence and repression.

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