Venezuelan Gov’t Suspends Dialogue as EU Criticizes US Embargo

The European Union objected to the “extraterritorial application of unilateral measures.”

By Lucas Koerner and Ricardo Vaz
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The EU has itself threatened harsher sanctions against Venezuela if government-opposition talks fail. (EU Observer)
The EU has itself threatened harsher sanctions against Venezuela if government-opposition talks fail. (EU Observer)

Caracas, August 7, 2019 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela’s Maduro government announced Wednesday that it will not be attending the latest round of talks with the opposition this Thursday and Friday in Barbados.

“President Nicolas Maduro Moros has decided not to send a delegation on this occasion in light of the grave and brutal aggression continually and cunnily perpetrated by the Trump administration,” Venezuela’s Communications Ministry said in a statement, referring to the full-scale embargo unveiled by Washington on Monday.

The move – which blocks all Venezuelan assets in the US, while also prohibiting dealings with the Venezuelan state by US and even foreign entities enforceable via secondary sanctions – was strongly condemned by Caracas as “economic and political terrorism.”

In May, the Maduro administration and the opposition entered into Norway-mediated negotiations in Oslo, which continued in Barbados in July. The Bolivarian government has given no indication regarding its participation in future rounds of talks. At the time of writing there has been no reaction from the Venezuelan opposition nor from the Norwegian Foreign Ministry.

In justifying its refusal to attend the dialogue, the Venezuelan government accused opposition leader Juan Guaido of “celebrating, promoting, and supporting these actions detrimental to the sovereignty of our country and elemental human rights of its inhabitants.”

On Monday, Guaido, who proclaimed himself “interim president” in January and was immediately recognized by Washington, defended the embargo as an “action that seeks to protect Venezuelans.”

Critics have likened the new measures to the sanctions regimes imposed on Cuba, Iran, North Korea, and Syria, warning of dire humanitarian consequences.

For its part, the European Union broke ranks with Washington to criticize the embargo.

"We oppose the extraterritorial application of unilateral measures," EU Spokesperson for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Carlos Martín Ruiz de Gordejuela told press.

Gordejuela added that the European bloc is looking for a solution to the crisis via elections “in the shortest possible term.”

The European Union, as a leading member of the so-called International Contact Group comprised of nearly a dozen Latin American and European governments, has endorsed dialogue between the Venezuelan government and the opposition. However, the EU has also sanctioned top Caracas officials and has threatened harsher measures if there are no “concrete results” from the Norway-mediated talks. The majority of EU member-states followed Washington in recognizing Juan Guaido as “interim president” in the wake of his self-proclamation on January 23.

Lucas Koerner reporting from Philadelphia and Ricardo Vaz from Caracas.

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