CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuela's opposition said Sunday that a dialogue to resolve the country's political crisis, brokered by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, came to an end six weeks after the suspension of President Nicolas Maduro's participation.
FILE PHOTO: Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido, who has been recognized by many nations as the country's lawful interim ruler, speaks at a session of the Venezuelan National Assembly in Caracas, Venezuela, on September 3, 2019. REUTERS / Manaure Quintero / File Photo  The talks, most of which took place on the Caribbean island of Barbados, began after opposition leader Juan Guaido led a failed military uprising against Maduro in April, accused of human rights abuses and causing an economic collapse that has caused millions to flee.
Maduro's representatives left the table in August to protest the tightening of sanctions against the OPEC nation by US President Donald Trump. Critics of the dialogue within the Venezuelan opposition coalition argued that Maduro negotiated with malicious intent and used the talks to gain time.
"The dictatorial regime of Nicolas Maduro has broken the bargaining process with false excuses," Guaido's office said in a statement on Twitter. "After more than 40 days of refusing to proceed, we confirm that the Barbados mechanism is complete."
Neither the Venezuelan Ministry of Information nor the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately responded to a request for comment.
Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly, called on Venezuela's constitution in January to assume a provisional presidency. He argued that Maduro's re-election in 2018 was unlawful. He has been recognized by dozens of countries, including the United States, as Venezuela's rightful leader.
But Maduro, who calls Guaido an American puppet, has held on to power despite a worsening economic slowdown and increasing international isolation. The military has not abandoned him despite repeated calls from the opposition, and he retains the support of Russia and China.
Opposition negotiators had stated that Maduro's representatives were not prepared to discuss the main opposition priority – to hold a new election under free and fair conditions.
In his Sunday Declaration, which was a message to "the people and the armed forces," Guaido's office thanked Norway for facilitating the process, but did not indicate the next steps it would take.
"We must prepare to embark on a new phase of this struggle that requires more commitment, strength, determination, sacrifice, and conviction from all," the statement says.
Reporting by Luc Cohen; Editing by Peter Cooney