Reuters is reporting this evening that representatives from the Maduro government and the opposition movement are on their way to Oslo, Norway to “discuss potential options” to resolve the ongoing political crisis in the country.
Citing “four opposition sources familiar with the situation”, Reuters reported that the people involved in the talks are Minister of Information Jorge Rodriguez and Miranda state governor Hector Rodriguez on the government side, while the opposition is represented by National Assembly deputy Stalin Gonzalez and opposition activists Gerardo Blyde and Fernando Martinez.
Just a few hours ago, Maduro said that Rodriguez was “not in Venezuela right now”, and that he was on a “very special mission”. While Maduro did not provide any details on where Rodriguez was or what his mission was, the timing of his statement and the information in the Reuters report coincide.
Earlier in the day, an open source investigator who goes by the name of Yoruk Isik tweeted that a Bombardier Global Express jet (registration number TCTSR) had flown from Caracas to Oslo:
A check of the flight-tracking website Flightradar24 confirms that the jet made the trip yesterday, and that it landed in Oslo at approximately 4:39 AM UTC:
The possibility that the opposition and the government are once sitting at a negotiating table is an important development in the Venezuelan crisis, which has since January of this year appeared at times to be spiraling out of control.
National Assembly Meets Under Heavy Guard
The National Assembly was overwhelmed with a heavy National Guard presence for the second day in a row as opposition legislators sought to hold a parliamentary session there today.
Despite the presence of the soldiers, today’s session was able to go ahead. Deputy Arnoldo Benitez said that the process of entering the building was straightforward, and that the soldiers “only asked for [our] identification”.
However, the soldiers did block members from the press from entering the National Assembly to cover today’s proceedings.
One of the items on the agenda of today’s session was the incorporation of a deputy from the PSUV bloc to the legislature: deputy Fernando Orozco from the Redes party. He was elected on the PSUV ticket in 2015 for Trujillo state.
Orozco was sworn in as a deputy in a ceremony, part of which you can see below:
Orozco’s decision to join the National Assembly is sure to draw the ire of the Maduro regime, since its position is that the legislature is illegitimate. For this reason, deputies from the PSUV bloc no longer attend parliamentary sessions.
US Department of Transportation Stops All Air Traffic To/From Venezuela
The United States Department of Transportation issued an order today suspending air service from and to Venezuela, citing security concerns.
According to the order, the decision was made after the Department of Homeland Security provided an update to the Department of Transportation regarding the situation in Venezuela. That letter included the following assessment:
… conditions in Venezuela threaten the safety and security of passengers, aircraft, and crew traveling to or from that country, and that the public interest requires an immediate suspension of all commercial passenger and cargo flights between the United States and Venezuela.
As a result, the order bans all U.S. air carriers from flying “to or from any airport in Venezuela.” The same order also bans “foreign air carriers” from flying to or from Venezuela. Although the wording of the text is not clear, it is likely that the ban on foreign air carrier flights only applies to airlines flying from the United States. The order is effective immediately.
NGO: 1,963 Protests in Venezuela
The Observatorio Venezolano de Conflictividad Social (Venezuelan Social Conflict Watch, OVCS) released a report today indicating that there were a total of 1,963 protests around the country during the month of April, for an average of 65 protests per day. That figure is up significantly from the same month in 2018, which saw 927 protests.
According to the OVCS, 677 of the protests that took place in April involved making demands of the Maduro government involving political rights.
The top five regions of the country with the highest number of protests were:
- Lara state: 297
- Miranda state: 255
- Trujillo state: 113
- Zulia state: 110
- Tachira state: 100
According to the same OVCS update, seven people were killed at protests between April 30 and May 7, while another 346 were injured.
The OVCS is a non-governmental organization that tracks protests in Venezuela. You can read their April report here.
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