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 President Nicolas Maduro has harshly rebuked US Vice President Mike Pence for attempting to entice members of the Venezuelan military to turn against the legitimately-elected government in Caracas.
Maduro said on Wednesday that the US vice president’s recent offer of new incentives to Venezuela’s military potential defectors disrespected the “honor” and “dignity” of the country’s armed forces.
“Yesterday, Mike Pence declared that the soldier who betrays the country and goes for the side of the gringos... they will reward him; [that is] a lack of respect for honor, morals, and the dignity of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces,” the Venezuelan president said, using a derogatory term for Americans.