Venezuela’s government late Wednesday halted negotiations with the opposition in protest of the Trump administration’s freezing of its U.S. assets, thrusting into crisis the country’s best chance of peacefully resolving a political standoff that has kept the nation on the edge for more than six months. The decision surprised representatives of opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who were already on the Caribbean island of Barbados awaiting what was to be the start Thursday of the sixth round of talks that began in May under the auspices of Norway. “We Venezuelans have watched with profound indignation how the chief of the opposition, Juan Guaidó, celebrates, promotes and supports these harmful actions against our nation’s sovereignty and our peoples’ most basic human rights,” the government said in a statement Wednesday night. The government stopped short of abandoning the talks altogether, saying only that it would “review the mechanisms of this process to ensure its continuation is truly effective and harmonious with the interests of the people.” For weeks, representatives of Maduro and his would-be successor have been shuttling back and forth to Barbados trying to agree on a common path out of the country’s prolonged political standoff. The meetings have been slow-going and shrouded in mystery, with neither side disclosing details. But Maduro’s supporters have accused the U.S. of trying to blow up the fragile process with sweeping new sanctions announced this week that freeze all of the government’s assets in the U.S. and even threaten to punish companies from third countries that
For weeks, representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his would-be successor, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, have been shuttling back and forth to Barbados trying to agree on a common path out of the country’s prolonged political standoff. The meetings have been slow-going and shrouded in mystery, with neither side disclosing details. But now Maduro’s supporters are accusing the U.S. of trying to blow up the fragile process. The purported explosive: sweeping new sanctions that freeze all of the Maduro government’s assets in the U.S. and even threaten to punish companies from third countries that keep doing business with his socialist administration. “They’re trying to dynamite the dialogue,” Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said at a news conference to denounce comments by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton defending the asset freeze. “But nobody, not even 1,000 Trumps or 500 Boltons … will make us abandon the negotiating table.” Building on its role as a facilitator of Colombia’s peace process, Norway in May managed to overcome deep distrust arising from past failed attempts at dialogue and bring the two sides together in Oslo. Talks have since moved to the Caribbean island of Barbados, where the fifth round wrapped up last week. Neither side has said much about what is being discussed, although speculation has swirled in political and diplomatic circles that Maduro’s envoys have expressed a willingness to call an early presidential election under a revamped electoral board and foreign observation. The U.S. has insisted Maduro must give up power before
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Saturday he has asked his envoy to the United States to meet with Pentagon officials to “cooperate” on a solution to the South American country’s political crisis.
Guaido, the leader of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, added he had received word from China that the country would join a diplomatic effort between European and Latin American countries, known as the International Contact Group on Venezuela, to negotiate an end to the crisis.
In January, Guaido invoked the OPEC nation’s constitution to assume an interim presidency, arguing President Nicolas Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate. He has been recognized by most Western and Latin American countries, but Maduro has retained the support of allies China, Russia and Cuba.
Guaido’s effort to oust Maduro so he can take power and call new elections has stalled in recent weeks, after an attempted military uprising on April 30 was put down. Guaido told an Italian newspaper this week that he would “probably” accept a U.S. military intervention if the United States proposed it.
Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Tuesday he had begun the “final phase” of his plan to oust President Nicolas Maduro, calling on Venezuelans and the military to back him to end Maduro’s “usurpation.” A Reuters journalist later saw security forces firing tear gas at Guaido and around 70 mostly young armed men in military uniform outside the La Carlota air force base in Caracas. Hundreds of civilians also joined the group.
But around two hours after Guaido tweeted his announcement, there was no sign of any other military activity, and the government dismissed any suggestion of an insurrection.
“We reject this coup movement, which aims to fill the country with violence,” said Defence Minister Vladimir Padrino.
Venezuela’s opposition-controlled congress opened its first session of the year Saturday, installing a fresh-faced leader who struck a defiant tone and vowed to take up the battle against socialist President Nicolas Maduro. Juan Guaido, 35, assumes the presidency of a National Assembly stripped of power by Maduro, whose government is blamed for leading the once-wealthy oil nation into a historic political and humanitarian crisis. Speaking to legislators, Guaido named off several opposition politicians and opponents of Maduro’s government who have been jailed, driven into exile or killed. He said desperation has forced masses of citizens to flee abroad looking for work. “We are under an oppressive system,” he said. “It’s not just that — it is miserable.” Tall and youthful, Guaido represents the next generation of Venezuelan political opposition, taking up the assembly’s leadership following 74-year-old Omar Barboza. Guaido is an industrial engineer and former student leader from the same political party as Leopoldo Lopez, Venezuela’s most popular opposition leader under house arrest. Government opponents consider him a political prisoner. Guaido called Maduro a dictator whose legitimacy has run out. Venezuela is living a “dark but transitional” moment of its history, he said, adding that among its first acts congress will create a transitional body to restore constitutional order, but he offered no details. He addressed a hall filled only with opposition lawmakers as the government loyalists have long boycotted any sessions, saying the National Assembly has itself overstepped its authority. However, roughly 20 foreign diplomats from the United States,