Colombia convenes new Venezuela summit
Representatives from about 20 countries, including the US, gathered in Bogotá on Tuesday as part of the Colombian government’s push to restart talks between Venezuelan strongman Nicolás Maduro and the fractious opposition. Neither side has sent representatives, but both say they support the event.
How’d we get here? Several years ago, Maduro, who had mismanaged the economy and rigged his own re-election, was on the ropes. As popular protests swelled, millions fled his country, and fresh US sanctions choked off crucial revenues. But opposition infighting and global demand for oil — Venezuela has more of it than anyone else — kept him firmly in power.
Now, with elections approaching next year, the opposition – along with the US, EU, and most of the region – wants the powerful but unpopular Maduro to guarantee a level playing field. He, however, wants the US to ease Trump-era sanctions. Maduro has shown he can hang on pretty well under sanctions, but he may not want to risk a rerun of the 2018 protests over an overtly unfair vote.
A previous round of talks in Mexico stalled late last year, but Colombia’s left-wing President Gustavo Petro is hoping that his good relations with neighboring Caracas will enable him to broker a new deal where others have failed.