On Tuesday, President Donald Trump signed an executive order blocking all Venezuelan government assets in the United States, including those belonging to the Bolivarian republic’s central bank and oil company PDVSA. The decree also authorizes sanctions against any foreign entities supporting Maduro.
"Last week, the fifth round of negotiations [with the opposition] took place. Our delegation arrived, and the opposition delegation told us: ‘Please, we propose cutting short the meeting from three days to two.’ [Minister of Communications] Jorge Rodriguez said: ‘Why? We came ready for dialogue and brought concrete proposals, Venezuela wants dialogue, agreement and peace.’ And they said: ‘The point is that we need to go to Washington, because we have a planned high-level meeting with devil Elliott Abrams [US Special Envoy for Venezuela] and other devils in the US power circles," Maduro said at the rally.
Maduro noted that the government delegation had contacted him over the issue.
"I said that if they [the opposition] want to go to Washington, let them go [there]," the president pointed out.
Then, Maduro lowered his voice.
"And now the gossip. They pledged to go to Washington and demand that the US government lift all sanctions against Venezuela, they promised it to us at the [negotiating] table ... But on Thursday evening, news came that they were not received in Washington, that they did not go to Washington. Please don't tell anyone this gossip ... They [the United States] left them with tickets in their hands," the president said, addressing hundreds of people who gathered for the rally.
He added, in an apparent reference to the latest US move, that "imperialism has given them the answer by issuing the most criminal decree ever signed against Venezuela."
Venezuela has long been suffering from a humanitarian and political crisis that intensified in January when, after disputing Maduro's re-election, US-backed opposition leader Juan Guaido illegally declared himself the country’s interim president and Washington stepped up sanctions pressure on Caracas. Maduro has called Guaido a US puppet and accused Washington of orchestrating a coup to force a change of government in Venezuela and claim the country's resources.
Since May, the Venezuelan government and opposition, however, have been engaged in talks mediated by the Norwegian government.