Guaido says Venezuela's access to IMF SDRs to be part of political talks

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela's opposition leader Juan Guaido speaks to the media, in Caracas, Venezuela July 12, 2021. REUTERS/Leonardo Fernandez Viloria reuters_tickers
This content was published on September 14, 2021 - 19:48

CARACAS (Reuters) - Venezuela's access to International Monetary Fund (IMF) Special Drawing Rights (SDR) will be on the agenda in talks between the opposition and the government of President Nicolas Maduro in Mexico, opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Tuesday.

The IMF in August allocated around $5 billion in SDRs to Venezuela as part of a $650 billion global effort to boost liquidity amid the pandemic, but it says Venezuela cannot use them because of questions about Maduro's legitimacy.

"Yes, this will be discussed in the context of the sacred interests of the country, in the next round (of talks) in Mexico," Guaido, who is recognized by the United States as Venezuela's legitimate president, said in a press conference.

Guaido added that the lack of recognition was not the only impediment to the IMF's disbursement of funds to Maduro's government, pointing to delays in publishing economic data and the central bank's lack of independence.

Guaido allies and a delegation backed by Maduro have met twice in Mexico City to discuss issues ranging from free and fair elections and arbitrary detentions to sanctions imposed by Washington and the associated freezing of government assets.

The next round will take place in Sept. 24-27.

The opposition has weakened considerably since Guaido assumed an interim presidency in 2019, and could use the SDR reserves as a bargaining chip to seek concessions from Maduro.

But it is not immediately evident whether or under what circumstances the IMF would provide access to the funds on the basis of a political deal struck in the Mexico talks.

The IMF did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

Venezuela's central bank last week reported a jump of around $5 billion in its international reserves. The central bank did not explain the increase or respond to questions from Reuters.

(Reporting by Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall)

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