MEXICO CITY (Xinhua/AFP) – The Venezuelan government and a sector of the opposition, the Unitary Platform coalition, on Saturday reached a second partial agreement for releasing blocked resources after a standoff that lasted over a year, the head of the government’s delegation said.
The deal came by during talks mediated by Mexico in Mexico City and amounted to a breakthrough between the Venezuelan sides, who have been stuck in a political gridlock for more than a year.
The two sides, with an aim to ease the economic woes and political stalemate in the oil-rich country, resumed talks after a suspension in October 2021 and signed a humanitarian agreement to facilitate the well-being of the Venezuelan people.
“Through this agreement, we are retrieving more than 3 billion dollars that will go directly towards the financing of education, health, electricity, to caring for the victims of the tragedies caused by the torrential rains that Venezuela has suffered,” Jorge Rodriguez, head of the government’s delegation, told local reporters.
The recovered resources will be invested in 2,300 schools throughout the country, allocated to promote the country’s health industry, as well as be used to improve the national electrical grid, Rodriguez said.
The resources will be placed in a fund created by the United Nations (UN) and administered by Venezuela and its mechanisms, said Rodriguez, who is also president of the National Assembly, noting that the international financial system has frozen more than 20 billion dollars of Venezuelan resources.
In a statement on Saturday, UN deputy spokesman Farhan Haq said Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was committed to supporting the two sides in implementing the deal, calling it “an important milestone that has the potential to deliver broader benefits for the people of Venezuela.”
The country began going through a downward spiral of poverty as well as social and developmental stagnation in 2018, when the West -- led by the United States -- and its favored Venezuelan opposition contested Maduro’s victory in presidential elections.
Following the election, Western countries began slapping Caracas with a slew of backbreaking sanctions, which have been responsible for spawning the dire economic situation in the country. Millions have fled Venezuela since the onset of the crisis, the United Nations estimates.
As part of the Saturday deal, the Venezuelan sides agreed to continue talks on the next presidential election that has been scheduled for 2024.
The Venezuelan opposition has set its eyes on the polls, while Caracas wants the international community to recognize Maduro as the rightful president and to lift the sanctions, particularly a US oil embargo.
Prior to conclusion of the deal, government negotiator Jorge Rodriguez told reporters that his team will defend “the right that we have... to live in peace.”
Commending the accord, Mexican Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard said the deal reached in the Mexican capital represented “hope for all of Latin America.”