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VENEZUELA: Maduro has announced that he wants to start negotiations with the US – politics

VENEZUELA: Maduro has announced that he wants to start negotiations with the US – politics

Nearly a month before a crucial presidential election in Venezuela, there may be some movement left in deadlocked relations with the United States. Nicolás Maduro, the president of the South American country, announced in a television program on Monday evening that he wanted to resume talks with Washington: “After thinking about it, I agreed, and the talks will resume next Wednesday”.

The conflict between Venezuela and the United States has been going on for years. The US government accuses those in power in Caracas of using electoral manipulation and repression to stay in office. So Washington has in recent years imposed a whole series of sanctions against individuals and companies, including Venezuela's state oil company PDVSA. Punitive measures have contributed to a severe economic crisis in Venezuela. More than half of the population in the oil-rich nation now lives below the poverty line and nearly a quarter of Venezuela has fled its homeland in recent years.

The sanctions have increased pressure on Maduro

Demand is high and pressure is mounting on those in power in Caracas. After tough negotiations, a first compromise was reached again last year: the Venezuelan government expressed its willingness to hold elections in October, after the United States eased its sanctions against Venezuela's oil and gas sector. However, six months later, these were reinstated after a promising opposition candidate was excluded from the election.

Voting will be held on July 28. Ruler Nicolás Maduro wants a third term in office, keeping Chavismo in power. The political movement, which dates back to the late left-wing president Hugo Chávez, has dominated the country for a quarter of a century.

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Opposition candidates are ahead in the election

Despite promises to make the election as free and fair as possible, many candidates were not allowed to participate in the voting. At the same time, human rights activists and members of the opposition have been repeatedly arrested in the past few months. Only a fraction of Venezuelans living abroad and staunch critics of the government were able to register for the election and international observers were invited by the government in Caracas.

In most polls, President Maduro is currently trailing conservative opposition candidate Edmundo Gonzalez Urrutia. However, the government in Caracas has launched a massive campaign in recent weeks. Like representatives of opposition parties, Nicolás Maduro is touring the country. There are cash allocations and special programs on television, including a talent show that sought an official campaign song.

Experts believe that the fact that the government in Caracas now wants to get closer to the US again may be related to this: before the referendum, a compromise signal should be sent, even after the victory of Chavismo, the negotiations should continue with the US states – and the US sanctions will end.

So far, the government in Washington has not commented on the Venezuelan president's statements. Ultimately, however, it may be in their interest to resume negotiations. Venezuela has the world's largest known oil reserves, and before the conflict began, much of it went to the United States. At the same time, many of the refugees entering the country today through the southern border of the United States are from Venezuela. The U.S. government wants to stop this infiltration, but it won't be possible without Caracas' help.

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