Venezuelan government suspends negotiations with opposition

Venezuela said it would suspend negotiations with the opposition that were set to resume this weekend, after Cape Verde extradited Colombian businessman Alex Saab,  a Venezuelan envoy, to the United States on money laundering charges.

Socialist party legislator Jorge Rodriguez, who heads the government’s negotiating team said, the Venezuelan government would not attend the talks set to begin on Sunday.

The Venezuelan government in September named Saab who was arrested in June 2020 when his plane stopped in Cape Verde to refuel as a member of its negotiating team in talks with the opposition in Mexico, where the two sides are looking to solve their political crisis.

Rodriguez said in a statement that, “Called the decision to suspend negotiations an expression of our deepest protest against the brutal aggression against the person and the investiture of our delegate Alex Saab Moran.”

Opposition leader Juan Guide condemned the decision, “With this irresponsible suspension of their assistance in Mexico, they evade once again urgent attention for the country, which currently suffers from extreme poverty of 76.6%.”

Guaido said, he would continue to insist on finding a solution to the country’s crisis.

The U.S. Justice Department charged Saab in 2019 in connection with a bribery scheme to take advantage of Venezuela’s state-controlled exchange rate.

The U.S. also sanctioned him for allegedly orchestrating a corruption network that allowed Saab and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro to profit from a state-run food subsidy program.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesperson confirmed Saab’s extradition and said he is expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday in U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida.

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