UPDATED 9:47 AM PT — Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Embattled Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro recently responded to comments made by President Trump regarding negotiations between the two countries. While speaking to a crowd of supporters in Venezuela Tuesday, Maduro said he had authorized contact with U.S. officials for months in an effort to repair diplomatic relations.
This comes after President Trump confirmed speculation the U.S. has been holding “closed-door” negotiations with Venezuelan officials, but didn’t go into detail.
“I can confirm that for months we have had contact,” said Maduro. “Just as I have sought dialogue in Venezuela, I have sought a way for President Donald Trump to really listen to Venezuela and respectfully listen to the truth of the Bolivarian Revolution of the 21st Century, and understand the truth that his officers and collaborators keep from him and the Venezuela of lies they sell to him.”
However, the Associated Press is reporting the U.S. has made secret contact with the so-called “second most powerful man” in Venezuela’s Socialist Party — Diosdado Cabello. He is a close ally of Maduro’s inner circle.
Cabello is known as the “boss” within the Socialist Party, and a major power broker throughout Venezuela. The assembly leader has reportedly met with U.S. officials once to discuss brokering Maduro’s peaceful removal from office. In exchange, the long-time politician is reportedly pushing to ease current U.S. sanctions. Similar contact has allegedly been made with other top Venezuelan officials, however, negotiations are reportedly still early in the making.
Meanwhile, the Trump administration is said to be working on a transition plan in the case U.S. pressure doubles over into Maduro’s outright removal. Moving forward, a senior trump official has reportedly confirmed a second meeting with Cabello is in the works.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido is expected to deliver remarks Wednesday regarding a possible solution to the ongoing political crisis.