Maduro, Open to Advancing Legislative Elections, but not Presidential

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has been willing to sit down with the opposition on Tuesday to discuss “peace and the future” of the country, according to an interview with the Russian news agency RIA Nóvosti.

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Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro has been willing to sit down with the opposition on Tuesday to discuss “peace and the future” of the country, according to an interview with the Russian news agency RIA Nóvosti.

“I am ready, with an open agenda, to sit down with sectors of the opposition to speak of the good of Venezuela, of peace and of the future,” the Venezuelan president said, after the head of Parliament, Juan Guaidó, proclaimed himself president in charge of Venezuela with the support of the US and several Latin American countries.

On the other hand, the president of Venezuela has assured that “it would be very good” to advance the legislative elections that should be held in 2020 as a way to get out of the crisis the country is experiencing, but he has reiterated his refusal to call presidential elections.

“It would be very good if there were early elections for the Venezuelan Parliament, it would be a good form of political debate and a solution with the popular vote,” said Maduro.

“I would agree that the elections of the National Assembly should be advanced, through a decree of the National Constituent Assembly, and serve as an escape valve for the tension that the imperialist coup has brought to Venezuela.”

The president has sustained.

The links with Russia

The Venezuelan president has expressed his “recognition” to Russian President Vladimir Putin and said that “every month” Venezuela receives Russian weapons, “the most modern in the world.”

For his part, the self-proclaimed president of Venezuela, Juan Guaidó, has also granted an interview, in his case to the German newspaper Bild, in which he denounces that the country is “in a dictatorship” and that “there must be pressure”.

“We need more sanctions from the European Union, as decided by the United States,” said the president of the Venezuelan parliament, who says the regime is “absolutely corrupt.”

Guaidó, head of the opposition-majority parliament, has called on Venezuelans to take to the streets between 17 and 7 pm (mainland), from their jobs, homes, schools or stores, with flags, pans or banners.

“Venezuela got up to dream of the country we want, we must be on the street (…), we need everyone to achieve our democracy,” said the 35-year-old opponent when calling the demonstration.

Although the military leadership described it as a “deception”, Guaidó will insist during this day on the offer of amnesty to the military to collaborate with a transition, seeking to break the support of Maduro, the Armed Forces.

The parliamentary leader, with growing international support led by the United States, also called for this mobilization in support of the entry of humanitarian aid, which the government considers a door to US military intervention.

Washington said it has ready 20 million dollars to deliver, in food and medicine, whose severe shortage overwhelms Venezuelans and has triggered migration, estimated at 2.3 million people since 2015 according to the UN.

Maduro attributes the shortage to sanctions by the United States.

“It is likely that part of this humanitarian aid between sea and land ports through neighboring countries (the military) will have the decision in their hands to allow or not to enter,” said Guaidó this week.

Fear of violence

Fears of violent events reappear with each protest. Riots that erupted on January 21 have left some 40 dead and more than 850 detained, some of them in popular neighborhoods of Caracas, according to the UN.

Two waves of protests against Maduro in 2014 and 2017 resulted in about 170 deaths.

Washington, which according to Maduro uses Guaidó as a “puppet” to give him a coup d’etat, called directly on the military to support a transition and said about a possible armed action in Venezuela that “all options are on the table.”

Without giving truce, the United States approved on Monday sanctions against the state oil company PDVSA -a source of 96% of the country’s income-, and froze Venezuelan accounts and assets, which it handed over to Guaidó.

Maduro counterattacked from the judicial level. The Supreme Court of Justice (TSJ), on the official line, banned Guaidó from leaving the country and froze his accounts, at the request of the attorney general, Chavez Tarek William Saab.

“I’m not dismissing a prison threat (but) ‘Nothing new under the sun’. The regime’s only response is persecution, repression,”the parliamentary leader reacted.

The TSJ ordered an investigation against the opposition leader for “usurping” the functions of the socialist leader, which in principle could lead to the loss of his investiture as legislator.

In response, John Bolton, National Security Adviser to President Donald Trump, reiterated that any attempt to “harm” Guaidó will lead to “serious consequences.”

The offensive of Guaidó will continue with a “great march” on Saturday, just when the 20th anniversary of the “Bolivarian revolution” founded by the late socialist leader Hugo Chávez (1999-2013), is expected by the government to summon its followers .

The opposition mobilization will support, according to Guaidó, the eight-day deadline – due on Sunday – given to Maduro by Spain, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Portugal to accept free elections on pain of recognizing the opposition as president in charge .

Guaidó autojuramentado after the Congress declared Maduro “usurper” for taking on January 10 a second term he considers illegitimate – like much of the international community – to be the result of “fraudulent” elections.

Although its decisions are considered void by the TSJ, which declared it in contempt, Congress on Tuesday named “diplomatic representatives” in a dozen countries that recognized Guaidó as interim president.

The government insists on calling a negotiation and welcomed the efforts of Mexico and Uruguay at the UN. But Guaidó has reiterated that it will not lend itself to “false dialogues”.