By Steve Sweeney
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro confirmed that high-level talks have been held with the US for months, and said they would continue despite Washington’s near total economic blockade. Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced the “criminal blockade” at the UN Security Council on Tuesday. He also warned against Mr Trump’s “threats of establishing a naval blockade and use of force against the people of Venezuela.”
Mr Maduro confirmed that talks were being held by high-ranking Venezuelan officials with his approval. “Of course there are talks and we will continue to have them,” he said in a broadcast on state television. “Just as I have sought dialogue in Venezuela, I have sought a way in which President Trump really listens to Venezuela,” he said.
Mr Maduro has always insisted that discussions are the way to resolve differences and that he is willing to talk to Mr Trump. But the US has consistently rejected the offers, instead adopting an aggressive approach, including threats of military intervention. It backed hapless president of the defunct National Assembly Juan Guaido in his numerous failed attempts at launching an armed uprising to oust Mr Maduro.
More recently it has imposed a punishing economic blockade on Venezuela, which was condemned by United Nations high commissioner Michele Bachelet. Last year a report from UN special rapporteur Alfred Zayas said US sanctions were killing people, but his findings were largely ignored.
As many as 13 million people are expected to sign a petition opposing the US economic blockade, which will be presented to Mr Trump next month. “If President Donald Trump some day wants to talk, we are always ready,” Mr Maduro said, adding: “Of course, if you attack us, we’ll answer back.”
The Bolivarian leader explained that Venezuelan officials were trying to convey the truth about the country to their US counterparts. “They sell him a Venezuela of lies and on that basis, they conspire to attack it,” Mr Maduro said. (IPA Service)