Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has said he has been in talks with the Trump administration for months, even as the U.S. tightened sanctions.
The United States is one of more than 50 countries that do not recognize Nicolas Maduro as the legitimate leader of Venezuela.
On August 20, President Maduro said talks with the Trump administration had been going on for months.
However, US National Security Adviser John Bolton said the only thing being discussed was the departure of Nicolas Maduro.
Speaking on television, President Maduro said: “Just as I was looking for dialogue in Venezuela, I was looking for a way for President Trump to really listen to Venezuela.”
President Donald Trump confirmed on August 20 that his administration was “talking to various representatives of Venezuela.”
He said: “I don’t want to say who, but we’re talking at a very high level.”
President Maduro suggested he allow discussions on the reverse channel.
However, John Bolton put these contacts in a completely different light, tweeting:
“As the president has repeatedly stated, in order to stop the theft of resources of the Venezuelan people and continue the repression, Maduro must go. The only issues discussed by those behind Maduro are his care and free and fair elections. “
John Bolton said President Trump’s goal was “to stop the theft of Venezuelan people’s resources and continue the repression,” and that to that end President Maduro “should go”.
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Earlier this month, the U.S. imposed extensive sanctions aimed at increasing pressure on President Maduro from office.
Venezuela found itself in a power struggle between President Maduro and National Assembly leader Juan Guaid.
In January, Juan Guaida declared himself interim president, saying the election that brought Nicolas Maduro to power for a second term was fraudulent.
While Juan Guaidu has received support from more than 50 countries, he has so far failed to oust Nicolas Maduro from power.
Talks between the parties, held in Barbados and mediated by Norway, recently stalled after President Maduro condemned the opposition for supporting broad US sanctions.
According to the UN, Venezuela is experiencing one of the worst economic crises in history: a quarter of the 30 million population needs help.
In recent years, more than four million Venezuelans have left the country.
The government of Nicolas Maduro has come under fire from the international community for a number of reasons.
When opposition parties won a majority in the Venezuelan National Assembly, the president created a rival body with his supporters that took on a lot of power. His re-election in 2018 was controversial, and his critics called it rigged after many rivals were barred from running or fleeing the country.
Protests and demonstrations erupted into violence, and authorities who saw civilians killed met with harsh measures.
The United States has often been the target of Nicolas Maduro’s anger.
President Maduro accused the United States, and in particular John Bolton, of trying to kill him without presenting any evidence. He claims that his opposition is supported by foreign states, not domestic resistance to his rule.
Government officials were the first target of U.S. sanctions against the government of Nicolas Maduro, but earlier this year he imposed new restrictions on the state-owned oil company, which is a major player in the national economy.
This was followed by extensive sanctions in August, which froze all government assets in the US and blocked US companies from doing business with Venezuela.