June 7, 2019
CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Friday that the opposition does not currently plan to join a new round of talks in Norway with representatives of President Nicolas Maduro, after mediation efforts collapsed last month without a deal.
Talks seeking a political accord for the crisis-stricken nation fell apart on May 29, as opposition delegates repeated calls for President Nicolas Maduro to step down and allow a transitional government to organize a new presidential vote.
Guaido in January assumed a rival interim presidency, citing Venezuela’s constitution, and denounced Maduro’s government as illegitimate after he secured re-election last year in a vote widely criticized as rigged.
During a rally in the central city of Valencia, Guaido said that more talks are “not on the table today. Why not? Because if anything that does not move us toward (Maduro’s resignation) is useless.”
Venezuela’s information ministry did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Economic collapse has driven more than 3 million Venezuelans abroad since 2015, while political protests have often turned deadly.
Intelligence agents have detained several Guaido allies and the Supreme Court last month accused 14 opposition lawmakers of crimes including treason and conspiracy.
Norway has a long tradition of conflict mediation, including helping negotiate of a peace agreement in Colombia that lead to demobilization of the FARC guerrilla group.
But hopes for the Venezuela talks have been low since they were first unveiled last month. The opposition has lost faith in dialogue with Maduro’s government following meetings in 2016 and 2018 that ended in bitter recriminations and no agreements.
(Reporting by Deisy Buitrago and Tibisay Romero writing by Vivian Sequera and Brian Ellsworth; Editing by Alistair Bell)