Venezuela government and opposition sign agreements

Last Updated on Tuesday, 17 October 2023, 23:15 by Denis Chabrol

by Peter Richards

BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Oct 17, CMC – Venezuela’s government and opposition Tuesday signed agreements here paving the way for new electoral conditions in the South American country and raising the possibility of the removal of sanctions by the United States against Caracas.

The signings here came following the latest round of talks mediated by Norway and after multiple rounds of talks in 2021 and 2022 that had been hosted by Mexico.

Barbados Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Jerome Walcott, speaking at the ceremony, said Bridgetown as well as the entire Caribbean Community (CARICOM) grouping were pleased with the outcome of the deliberations between the representatives of the Venezuelan government and the opposition Unitary Platform.

“What we are witnessing today has been the culimination of a process that started here in Barbados in 2019, and here we are four years hence to host its conclusion. One of the more important takeways from this process has been the need to keep the communication channels and a willingess to engage in dialogue,” Walcott said.

“This for us has been a halmark of the negotiations. We thank Norway for providing the facilitators… our gratitude goes out to Mexico for serving as the host country for this round of negotiations,” Walcott said, thanking also Russia and the Netherlands for seeing the process through to its completion.

”The conclusion of these negotiations and what they portend has major significance, not only for the people of Venezuela but also for all Caribbean states where there is recognition of the Caribbean Sea as a zone of peace.

“This is a message that Barbados and its regional neighbours have been repeating in all regional and international fora and that it is never too late for dialogue.”

Walcott said that Venezuela has always been helpful to the Caribbean when energy crises have loomed dating back to the 1980’s through the San Jose Accord to the current PetroCaribe initiative , a a regional oil procurement agreement between Venezuela and Caribbean member states that started in 2005.

“Venezuela has been to support us. Now that the process has been concluded and Venezuela moves towards regaining its economic independence, we are looking forward in the very near future to a PetroCaribe 2 arrangement,” Walcott said, adding that just as dialogue has brought about a positive outcome in this process “we as members of the Caribbean Community look forward to continued dialogue with Venezuela on matters of regional interest.

“The next few months will be very important for Venezuela. Barbados pledges its support as you implement the provisions of the agreement. We stand ready to play our part,” Walcott added.

The head of the Norway delegation, Dag Nylander, told the ceremony that he hoped the agreements signed today “will contribute to what the parties have agreed.

“I would like to congratulate both groups,” he said, acknowledging that to “get over the polarisation will be a difficulty job, but the will both (sides) have shown in the last two weeks has shown what can be achieved when everybody is looking for the best for Venezuela.

“There is still a lot of work to be done. However, I think today is an important step towards bringing some lasting solution for Venezuela. Nevertheless it is an effort the international community has welcomed as we see here countries like the Netherlands and Russia and the other international actors that are here”.

Nylander said, going forward the future of the South American country “will always be in the hands of the Venezuelan people and their representatives to solve their problems.

“We would like to take some moment to have some progress made for the people of Venezuela and hopefully this will help find a solution not only for Venezuela but the people of the region,” he added.

According to the partial agreement signed, the parties will promote together a number of electoral guarantees for all the actors ahead of the presidential elections. It also proposes that the electoral process will be done during 2024 in accordance with the constitutional programme.

It also makes provision for electoral observers including those from the European Union, the United Nations, the African Union and the Carter Center.

The agreement allows for the promotion of a public discussion favourable to an electoral process without any outside interference.

“The parties reject any kind of violence in this process and any action regarding the territorial integrity of Venezuela and urges all the political actors and public figures to respect this ….during the campaign.” It also allows for all parties to have free access to the state-owned media.

The US State Department spokesman Matthew Miller on Monday had welcomed the outcome of the negotiations in Barbados and said in a statement said”along with like minded partners and other friends of Venezuela, the United States will continue its efforts to unite the international community in support of the Venezuelan-led negotiation process”.