0640 GMT October 19, 2018
Various mediation efforts have failed in recent years. Foes accuse President Nicolas Maduro of exploiting dialogue to buy time, while he says the opposition prefers violence, Reuters wrote.
Few Venezuelans expect further talks to yield a breakthrough, with Maduro’s foes demoralized at seeing him consolidate power ahead of a likely reelection campaign in 2018.
The disparate Democratic Unity coalition, which failed to dislodge Maduro in months of street protests earlier this year and then succumbed to infighting, is pressing primarily for a guarantee of free and fair voting next year.
It also wants a foreign humanitarian aid corridor to alleviate one of the worst economic crises in modern history.
“This process is difficult, heavy, hard and full of debate and confrontation,” said Julio Borges, president of the opposition-led congress, adding he hoped the two sides could come closer on December 15.
The government and the opposition did not compromise on any key points, according to one participant in the talks who asked to remain anonymous because he was not authorized to speak to media.
The opposition’s bargaining power has been weakened by a surprising defeat in October gubernatorial elections. Furthermore, the multi-party group is divided, with more militant sectors opposing the talks they say simply buy the government more time.
However, US sanctions against Maduro’s government have given his administration more impetus for the talks. Maduro wants any potential deal with the opposition to include joint pressure on Washington to back off.
“We said the true aid should come from putting an end to the attacks on Venezuela’s economy,” said information minister and government negotiator, Jorge Rodriguez, who struck a more positive tone than Borges and said his side was “deeply satisfied” with the two-day talks.