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Venezuela opposition backs out of prospective negotiations with government

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has been accused of failing to meet the conditions set out for the upcoming round of talks. It had been hoped that brokered negotiations would eventually lead to full bilateral talks.

Venezuela's political opposition on Tuesday said it wouldn't send representatives to the next round of scheduled talks with government officials after accusing the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, of failing to follow through on human rights commitments and electoral guarantees.

"Negotiation is not to go and waste time, to look at someone's face, but rather so that Venezuelans can have immediate solutions," said Henrique Capriles, the leader of the opposition Democratic Unity alliance. "We cannot have a repeat of last year's failure," he added, referring to the failed talks that were brokered by the Vatican in 2016.

Read more: Who makes up Venezuela's political opposition?

In mid-September, Dominican President Danilo Medina began brokering negotiations between the government and opposition with the aim of creating a framework for future dialogue.

Not enough progress made: opposition

Each side had held separate talks with Medina, before the opposition said not enough progress had been made on Maduro's part to warrant full bilateral negotiations.

They also accused the president of failing to nominate an independent third observer to facilitate any eventual negotiations.

The opposition has refused to back away from its demands that a date be set for the next presidential election, due by the end of 2018 at the latest.

It is also insisting that hundreds of detained activists be released, a foreign humanitarian aid corridor be established and that the powers of the opposition-held congress be recognized and respected.

After four years of recession, Venezuela is now going through a deep political and economic crisis which has left millions facing shortages of basic goods, such as food and medicine. This summer saw weeks of violent street protests that left more than 120 people dead.

Maduro, however, has shown no sign of stepping down, seeking instead to consolidate his power by stripping the opposition-controlled National Assembly of its authority and creating a new constituent assembly, staffed with government loyalists tasked with rewriting the government's constitution. 

The president has also claimed that Venezuela is the victim of "economic warfare" perpetrated by the political opposition and United States, in a bid to force him and the socialist government from power.

Read more: Venezuela: Democracy under fire

Watch video 01:03

Hunger crisis hits Venezuela

Trump urges EU leaders to follow sanctions lead

US President Donald Trump has called on the European Union to follow his lead in placing sanctions on Venezuela.

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, who met with Trump in the White House on Tuesday, was the first leader to directly endorse the notion of sanctions. Speaking alongside Trump to reporters in Washington, Rajoy described the situation in Venezuela as "unacceptable," declaring it was "no longer a democratic country"

"Sanctions are important," he said. "It is important there is an international coalition so democracy is restored."

The Venezuelan government, meanwhile, has decried the US decision to impose sanctions and issue a travel ban on its citizens this week, with the Foreign Ministry saying the measures amounted to a form of "psychological torture."

Watch video 03:26

What is life like in Venezuela for journalists?

dm/cmk (Reuters, dpa, AFP)

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