Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Wednesday blamed Washington in canceling scheduled talks with the political opposition, as his regime struggles under the weight of US sanctions.
Maduro’s government has been hurt hard since US President Donald Trump on Monday ordered a freeze on all Venezuelan government assets in the US and barred transactions with its authorities.
In response, Maduro “has decided to not send the Venezuelan delegation” to the latest round of talks, which were scheduled for yesterday and today in Barbados and mediated by Norway, the presidency said in a statement.
Maduro attributed the cancelation to “the grave and brutal aggression” being “continuously ... carried out by the Trump administration against Venezuela, which includes the illegal blocking of our economic, commercial and financial activities,” the statement read.
The dialogue was to be held with representatives of Venezuelan National Assembly President Juan Guaido, who proclaimed himself acting president in January.
Guaido is calling for new elections under the talks, while Maduro demands a “democratic cohabitation” and refuses to leave office.
Opposition negotiator Stalin Gonzalez tweeted from Barbados that his side “would continue to search for an end to the crisis and rescue our democracy through truly free elections.”
Venezuela said it is not permanently canceling the talks, but would “review the mechanism of the process” to make sure it is “in harmony with the needs of our people,” the statement said.
In Caracas, thousands of government supporters dressed in red on Wednesday marched against the US sanctions.
Washington has threatened to “use every appropriate tool” to oust Maduro, and on Tuesday warned Russia and China against doing business with the regime.
Speaking at a small meeting east of Caracas, Guaido said that the US sanctions would affect only top regime officials and not the general population.
“They’re against the regime, against Maduro, the product of arrogance,” he said, also calling for the release of opposition legislator Juan Requesens, who was arrested a year ago and is accused of being behind an alleged drone attack against Maduro.
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