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US' blockade worst for economy

Venezuela denounces EU attempts to shut down talks with opposition, elaborates Ceren Sagir

Venezuelan Foreign Affairs Minister Jorge Arreaza denounced the European Union's attempt to destabilise talks between the government and the opposition as Brussels called on member states to adopt additional sanctions against the country.

Mr. Arreaza tweeted on Friday: "The institutions of the European Union are determined to disrupt and try to destroy the dialogue process in Venezuela. "They do not respect sovereignty, nor the right to peace. What would Jean Monnet think?"

His comments followed a resolution approved by the European Parliament on Wednesday calling for additional sanctions against Venezuelan state authorities which they claim are "responsible for human rights violations and repression."

The MEPs also requested to restrict movement, freeze assets and suspend visas of Venezuelan authorities and their close relatives as they accused President Nicolas Maduro of being directly responsible for "indiscriminate use of violence."

The 455 MEPs who voted in favour of the resolution also reiterated their support of Venezuela's self-declared president Juan Guaido, who is backed by the US and 50 EU states. 85 MEPs rejected the resolution.

Mr. Guaido has proclaimed himself president of Venezuela in a bid to dismiss President Maduro's 2018 re-election as a fraud, and has since attempted three failed coups.

Venezuelan state institutions and the army have continued to stand behind the elected president, as have millions of ordinary Venezuelans who have rallied in his defence and against US interference.

Mr. Arreaza urged the EU to maintain a position of respect and constructive balance as key negotiation talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition factions are underway in Barbados this week.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said that he plans to hold meetings with Venezuela's leadership, including in Venezuela's Foreign Ministry, in Caracas this weekend.

Venezuelan officials also denounced and rejected statements made by EU high representative for foreign affairs Federica Mogherini this week, threatening the country with new sanctions if there was no progress in talks between the Venezuelan opposition and the government.

Venezuela's economy is already under strain from US sanctions on oil exports. Baker Institute for Public Policy's Latin American representative Francisco Monaldi said that Venezuela is "in emergency mode every day." He said: "The economic collapse is the worst seen outside a warzone. We've never seen anything like it in the history of Latin America."

(The views expressed are strictly personal)

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