Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido admitted on Wednesday that talks with the government of President Nicolas Maduro aimed a resolving the country’s political crisis “aren’t working.”
Talks mediated by Norway first took place in May in Oslo with several subsequent rounds in Barbados.
But Maduro called off the discussions three weeks ago in response to new U.S. sanctions against the country that amount to a near-total economic embargo.
The two sides are deadlocked with Guaido, who sparked the crisis by declaring himself acting president in January, demanding Maduro’s resignation and the government insisting the United States lift sanctions that it blames for the country’s crippled economy.
“At the moment there’s no date to restart the mechanism mediated by the kingdom of Norway until we achieve something concrete to approach a solution,” said Guaido.
He said that if the government is using the talks simply to boost its image “that serves no purpose for the Venezuelan people.”
Guaido supports the sanctions that target the regime as he hopes they will put pressure on Maduro to step down and call new elections.
The U.S. – the first of just over than 50 countries to recognize Guaido as interim president – stepped up sanctions in April by targeting state oil company PDVSA, on whose revenues the country is almost entirely dependent.
On Wednesday, the U.S. State Department announced the creation of a Venezuala Affairs Unit that will be based out of neighboring Columbia, whose right-wing government is allied closely with Washington. In a statement, the State Department said the unit will work to bring Guido to power without disclosing further details.
A study from economists Mark Weisbrot from the Center for Economic and Policy Research and Jeffery Sachs from Columbia University estimated that prior U.S. sanctions, imposed in two main stages by the Trump administration since 2017, have resulted in the deaths of about 40,000 Venezuelans.
In addition to the political standoff, Venezuela is suffering one of the worst economic crises in its history with a quarter of its 30 million population in need of aid, according to the United Nations.