Venezuela Regime Suspends Negotiations With Opposition
Venezuela on Sunday said it suspends negotiations with the opposition that were set to resume this weekend, after Cape Verde extradited Colombian businessman Alex Saab, a Venezuelan envoy, to the United States on money laundering charges.
The announcement was made by Socialist party legislator Mr. Jorge Rodriguez, who heads the government’s negotiating team. Mr. Rodriguez said the Venezuelan government would not attend the talks set to begin on Sunday.
The Venezuelan government in September named Mr. Saab – who was arrested in June 2020 when his plane stopped in Cape Verde to refuel – as a member of its negotiating team in talks with the opposition in Mexico, where the two sides are looking to solve their political crisis.
Mr. Rodriguez, reading from a statement, called the decision to suspend negotiations an expression of our deepest protest against the brutal aggression against the person and the investiture of our delegate Mr. Alex Saab Moran.
Opposition leader Juan Guaido condemned the decision
With this irresponsible suspension of their assistance in Mexico, they evade once again urgent attention for the country, which currently suffers from extreme poverty of 76.6 per cent, he wrote on Twitter. Mr. Guaido said he would continue to insist on finding a solution to the country’s crisis.
Venezuela, in a Twitter post by the Ministry of Communications, denounced the extradition as a “kidnapping.”
Hours after Mr. Saab’s extradition, Venezuela revoked the house arrest of six former executives of refiner Citgo, a U.S. subsidiary of state oil company PDVSA, two sources with knowledge of the situation and a family member told media.
The U.S. Justice Department charged Saab in 2019 in connection with a bribery scheme to take advantage of Venezuela’s state-controlled exchange rate. The U.S. also sanctioned him for allegedly orchestrating a corruption network that allowed Mr. Saab and Venezuelan dictator Mr. Nicolas Maduro to profit from a state-run food subsidy program.