Venezuela’s government said Wednesday it will not attend talks with the opposition this week to resolve the political unrest in the South American country.
The government will not send a delegation to talks scheduled to take place in Barbados Thursday and Friday due to self-declared interim President Juan Guaido’s support for U.S. sanctions against the country, Vice President Jorge Rodriguez said on one of his social media accounts.
"President Nicolas Maduro has decided not to send the government delegation to Barbados because of serious, harsh and insidious attacks by the Trump administration against Venezuela, including the illegal blocking of our economic, commercial and financial activities,” Rodriguez wrote.
He noted that Venezuelans were angered by Guaido’s support for the “harmful act” against the country’s sovereignty.
On Monday, President Donald Trump issued an executive order freezing all assets in the U.S. belonging to the Venezuelan government in a significant escalation of tensions with Caracas.
Trump's order further prohibits all transactions with Venezuelan officials but exempts humanitarian assistance to Venezuela, including transactions related to the provision of food, clothing and medicine.
Guaido backed the decision, claiming that the sanctions were aimed at “protecting Venezuelans”.
Venezuela has been rocked by political unrest since Jan. 10, when Maduro was sworn in for a second term following a vote boycotted by the opposition.
Tensions climbed on Jan. 23 when opposition leader Guaido declared himself interim president, but Maduro has so far refused calls to step down.
He has instead accused the U.S. of orchestrating a coup against his government, saying he is open to dialogue with the opposition.
Nearly 5,000 people leave Venezuela every day because of "instability and uncertainty" amid a crisis over the presidency and economy, and 3 million Venezuelans have already left the country since 2015, according to the UN's refugee agency.
Russia, China and Iran have thrown their weight behind Maduro, as has Turkey.
Spain, Britain, France, Sweden, Germany, Japan and Denmark joined the U.S., Canada and most Latin American countries in recognizing Guaido as Venezuela’s interim leader.
Last month, the Venezuelan government and the opposition agreed to initiate talks in Barbados under the mediation of Norway.
Talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition took place in Oslo, Norway in May but bore no fruit.
Reporting By Muhammed Emin Canik in Buenos Aries
Writing By Sena Guler