Venezuela’s Maduro regime boycotted the latest round of negotiations with the opposition’s Unitary Platform scheduled to take place in Mexico City October 17-20. The dialogue process, which formally began with talks on September 3, offers a glimmer of hope for Venezuela’s return to a democratic path.
Maduro refused to send a delegation to the latest round of talks after a close ally, illicit financier Alex Saab, was extradited to the United States where he was indicted in 2019 for money laundering and violating the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
Asked at a press briefing about Maduro’s decision to pull out of the negotiations, Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it “deeply unfortunate.”
“It’s also indicative, unfortunately, of Mr. Maduro putting self-interest ahead of the interests of the Venezuelan people and putting the interest of one person ahead of the interests of all people in Venezuela,” said Mr. Blinken.
He also pointed out the criminal case against Alex Saab “has been going on for the better part of a decade,” and underscored the independent nature of the United States judiciary, which acts separately from “anything that is happening on a political track,” such as the negotiations between the Maduro regime and the opposition’s Unity Platform.
Asked at a separate press briefing about the Citgo-6 and Maduro’s boycott of the Venezuelan negotiations, State Department Spokesperson Ned Price said the six executives were being treated by Maduro as “political pawns,” and are victims of “the heinous practice of arbitrary detention.” Price called on Maduro to release them “immediately and unconditionally.”
The United States, Mr. Price declared, “supports the Venezuelan-led negotiations between the Unity Platform and the Maduro regime…and we continue to believe that they should lead to the peaceful restoration of democracy that the people of Venezuela so earnestly desire and deserve.”
During a recent trip Assistant Secretary for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols said, “If the Maduro regime is serious about wanting to forge a better future for its people, addressing the humanitarian issues that are on the table now for the round of talks that the regime decided to boycott, the Maduro regime could demonstrate that by returning to the table. The Unitary Platform is ready to meet with them... And if they make progress in that regard, the United States will welcome it.”