Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro instructed his delegation not to attend scheduled talks with the opposition in Barbados over the latter’s support for the U.S. sanctions.
"After evaluating the stage of criminal imperialist aggression against our country and observing the outrageous stance of the Venezuelan opposition, I decided not to send the Venezuelan delegation to the dialogue table in Barbados," Maduro said in a government statement late on Wednesday.
The two sides had been set to meet in Barbados for two-day talks starting Thursday. The opposition delegation was already in the Caribbean country for the negotiation.
Maduro pinned the blame on the “serious and brutal aggression perpetrated in a continuous and artful manner" by the Trump administration against Venezuela, which includes the "illegal blockade" of the country's economic, commercial and financial activities, for his last-minute decision.
"At the same time, we, Venezuelans, have noted with deep indignation that the head of the opposition delegation, Juan Guaido, celebrates, promotes and supports these harmful actions against the sovereignty of our country, and the most elementary human rights of its inhabitants," he said.
Venezuela is preparing to review the mechanisms of this process so that it continues in a "really effective and harmonious" atmosphere with the interests of its people, the statement concluded.
U.S. President Donald Trump issued an executive order Monday freezing all assets belonging to the Venezuelan government in a significant escalation of tensions with Caracas.
Guaido threw his support behind the U.S., saying the measures do not go against the Venezuelans, but against "a corrupt regime that does business at the expense of hunger, destroying the field and services".
The new round of the talks was announced by a representative of Venezuela's opposition leader in the U.S. late July.
Hampered by opposition from the Venezuelan army and popular challenges to his legitimacy, Guaido's delegation took part in Oslo and Barbados initiatives for talks with the government.
Although the Oslo talks in May bore no fruit, the sides have yet to make a clear statement about the content of the Barbados talks held earlier this month.
While Guaido maintains his harsh rhetoric against the government despite the ongoing "peace negotiations", Maduro and his delegation call the dialogue process "successful".
The Trump administration has been focusing on economic and diplomatic pressure against Maduro, including imposing sanctions on him, his top officials and several governmental departments as it seeks to increase pressure on Caracas.
Venezuela's economy has been in precipitous decline following a global downturn in the price of crude oil, the country's main export, while a political unrest ongoing since Jan. 10 also affects country's financial stability.
Nearly 5,000 people leave Venezuela every day because of "instability and uncertainty" amid a crisis focused on the presidency and economy, and three million Venezuelans have already left the country since 2015, according to the UN's refugee agency.
By Beyza Binnur Donmez