Media reports said a third round of talks between Venezuela’s socialist regime and its political opposition was supposed to start Tuesday in Barbados. But an alleged human rights atrocity forced the meeting to be cancelled.
Representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and opposition leader Juan Guaidó had met in Norway twice this year. The U.S. and more than 50 other countries recognize Guaidó as Venezuela’s legitimate president, and the key goal of the talks is an agreement to hold new presidential elections.
According to the AP, the two sides were set to meet again in Barbados, with Norway again mediating. But those plans unraveled over the weekend with the death of Venezuelan Navy captain Rafael Acosta.
Acosta was arrested last month for allegedly conspiring to assassinate Maduro. (Acosta did oppose Maduro but denied being part of any murder plot.) When he appeared in court last Friday he showed obvious signs of torture and collapsed. He died the next day.
Venezuela’s attorney general says two military intelligence officers have been arrested. But Guaidó called Acosta’s case a human rights “atrocity” - similar to those of others jailed by the regime, including a man who officials claimed jumped to his death last year while in custory - and he now says the Barbados talks are off. Guaidó meanwhile is calling for a U.N. investigation.
Either way, the negotiations did not look promising. Guaidó and the opposition insist Maduro must leave office before new elections can be held. But Maduro for the moment looks entrenched in power.