Venezuela’s information minister said on Thursday that recent talks with President Juan Guaidó in Barbados were a “success” despite neither side announcing a deal on holding free elections or instigating a genuine transition to democracy.
“This round of talks for dialogue and peace in Barbados has concluded,” Jorge Rodríguez, who led the Maduro regime’s delegation, wrote on Twitter late on Thursday, describing it as “a successful exchange promoted by the government of Norway.”
Culmina en Barbados esta jornada de la mesa permanente de diálogo x la paz, espacio para dirimir las controversias x vías constitucionales y pacíficas. Exitoso intercambio auspiciado x Gobierno de Noruega. Agradecemos a la 1a Ministra de Barbados, Mía Mottley x su hospitalidad.
— Jorge Rodríguez (@jorgerpsuv) July 11, 2019
The talks began on Monday after Guaidó, recognized by the U.S. and most other Western democracies as Venezuela’s legitimate president, agreed to go back to the negotiating table. Last week, Guaidó declared that there was “never going to be a good time to mediate” with the regime, describing them as “kidnappers, human rights violators, and a dictatorship.”
Following the conclusion of the talks on Thursday, dictator Nicolás Maduro said he was “optimistic” that both sides could find a solution.
“Today they had a five-hour session, and I think that step by step, with strategic patience, we can find a path to peace,” he said. “If you work with goodwill and there is no American interventionism, I am sure that we will reach an agreement.”
Representatives for Guaidó are yet to release a statement on their outcome of the latest talks. Previous rounds of talks in Norway and Sweden have both ended without agreement, with Guaidó emphasizing that they would only accept a deal that involved the “end of the usurpation, a transition government, and free elections.”
Socialist Party Vice President Diosdado Cabello, known as one of the regime’s most powerful figures, dismissed the idea that any free or fair elections could be held, warning that the right-wing “will never” be able to take charge of the country.
“Here there are no presidential elections; here the president is named Nicolás Maduro, who won on May 20, 2018, and has only served six months of his five-year term,” Cabello said during a televised broadcast on Wednesday. Maduro’s election “victory” is widely regarded as a fraud due to record low voter turnout and rampant ballot manipulation.
Guaidó’s insistence on negotiating with the regime defies significant opposition within the movement against Maduro to negotiations with the regime. According to a poll carried out in May, 87.6 percent of Venezuelans are against any form of dialogue with the regime, while just over ten percent said they were in favor of talks.