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Venezuela political talks end with no signs of breakthrough

Jim Wyss, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

BOGOTA, Colombia -- High-stakes political negotiations among Venezuela's warring factions ended late Wednesday with no immediate signs of progress.

In a tweet, Venezuelan Communications Jorge Rodriguez said "this round of talks has finished," and thanked Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley for hosting the discussions.

Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido -- who is considered the country's legitimate president by Washington and more than 50 other nations -- did not immediately address the end of the talks. It's unclear if talks will resume in coming days.

Negotiations began on Monday with hopes that the Nicolas Maduro regime and Guaido's representatives could find a solution to the political impasse that has gripped the country for more than five months.

There have been unconfirmed rumors that the two sides were inching closer to new elections within nine months, in which Maduro -- who has been in power since 2013 -- would not be a candidate.

Diosdado Cabello, a close Maduro ally and the head of the National Constitutional Assembly, however, said new elections weren't negotiable.

"We won't have presidential elections," he said Wednesday, according to El Nacional newspaper. "The only president here is Nicolas Maduro Moros who is just six months into his new term."

 

Guaido, 35, rose to prominence on Jan. 23 when he announced that it was his constitutional duty, as head of congress, to assume the presidency, arguing that Maduro had clung to power through fraudulent elections. Despite having broad international support he has little real power in the country.

Maduro, 57, says elections last May give him the right to rule through 2025 and that Guaido is trying to illegally seize power with Washington's backing.

The political crisis is exacerbating an economic collapse featuring hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages. The United Nations says more than 5 million people have fled the country in recent years, the hemisphere's largest migratory crisis.

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