Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido said on Tuesday there were no plans to re-open talks with the “murderous dictatorship” of President Nicolas Maduro, following the death of an officer in custody over an alleged coup plot.
“For democrats, there is never a time to negotiate with hostage-takers, human rights abusers, or with a dictatorship,” Guaido said. “We are facing a deadly dictatorship.”
He told reporters that if fresh talks aimed at “facilitating the cessation of the usurpation” of Maduro was announced, “we will officially communicate.”
Guaido, who has been recognized by more than 50 countries as interim president, was speaking as lawmakers of the opposition-controlled National Assembly met to discuss the suspicious death of retired naval officer Rafael Acosta Arevalo.
In contrast to Guaido’s remarks, Maduro said he was “sure” that talks would yield an agreement this year.
“We are going to achieve a great agreement” in 2019, Maduro said, speaking at a political event.
“I am sure, I have absolute certainty,” he said, promising that “there will be good news in the weeks to come.”
Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said that the government was “waiting for the opposition to resume meetings in Norway.”
Representatives of Guaido and Maduro met face-to-face in Oslo early last month as part of talks mediated by Norway aimed at resolving the country’s political deadlock.
Acosta’s death Sunday sparked international condemnation.
UN rights chief Michelle Bachelet said Monday she was “shocked” by the death, adding weight to claims by the United States and the opposition that he may have been tortured.
He was one of several people being held over alleged involvement in what the government described as a failed coup.