Venezuela suspends talks with opposition after Maduro envoy extradited to US to face charges

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Venezuela announced on Saturday that it would suspend negotiations with the opposition party after the extradition of a member of its team to the United States for money laundering.

The socialist government has appointed Alex Saab, a Colombian businessman, as a member of the negotiating team in talks with the opposition in neutral Mexico. Authorities shut down Saab in June 2020 when its plane stopped in Cape Verde to refuel, charging it on the spot.

Venezuela continued to demand Saab’s freedom and called the decision to suspend negotiations “an expression of our deepest protest against the brutal aggression against the person and the inauguration of our delegate Alex Saab Moran”.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds up a copy of his country's case before the International Criminal Court over US sanctions during a press conference at the presidential palace of Miraflores in Caracas.  A Trump administration official reportedly met with an ally of Maduro in September to try to negotiate Maduro's exit from power.
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Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro holds up a copy of his country’s case brought before the International Criminal Court over US sanctions during a press conference at the presidential palace of Miraflores in Caracas. A Trump administration official reportedly met with an ally of Maduro in September to try to negotiate Maduro’s exit from power.

The government called the extradition a “kidnapping” in a Twitter message.

Talks were due to resume the following Sunday, and opposition leader Juan Guaido condemned the decision.

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“With this irresponsible suspension of their aid to Mexico, they once again escape urgent attention for the country, which currently suffers from extreme poverty of 76.6%,” he said. on Twitter.

Guaido insisted he would continue to work to find a solution to the country’s crisis.

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a mural in support of the release of businessman Alex Saab, who was arrested in Cape Verde for money laundering for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas , Venezuela, September 9, 2021. REUTERS / Leonardo Fernandez Viloria / File Photo

FILE PHOTO: A woman walks past a mural in support of the release of businessman Alex Saab, who was arrested in Cape Verde for money laundering for the government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, in Caracas , Venezuela, September 9, 2021. REUTERS / Leonardo Fernandez Viloria / File Photo

The decision to suspend talks will add further pressure to an already difficult political situation in Venezuela. Maduro last had talks with the opposition party in 2019 – a two-month period that was the fourth attempt since 2014 for a meeting of the spirits in the country, according to The Hill.

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Although it is no longer officially recognized by the United States and more than 50 other countries as the legitimate leader of Venezuela, Maduro still sits in court in Caracas, and he ultimately closed Guaidó’s access to cash.

In November 2020, Guiado responded by turning to Circle, a cryptocurrency company that issues the fully-reserved digital dollar (USDC) stablecoin.

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The US Department of Justice indicted Saab in 2019 as part of a bribery program, Reuters reported. He also allegedly orchestrated a network of corruption that allowed him and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to benefit from a state-run food subsidy program.

Saab’s lawyers called the accusations “politically motivated.”



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