WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Venezuela’s opposition leader Juan Guaido is considering attending the United Nations General Assembly in New York this month to step up pressure on socialist President Nicolas Maduro but has not yet reached a decision, the opposition’s envoy to the United States said on Monday.
It would only be the second trip abroad by Guaido, head of the opposition-controlled National Assembly since he invoked Venezuela’s constitution in January to assume an interim presidency, arguing Maduro’s 2018 re-election was illegitimate.
“We haven’t decided. It is an option,” Carlos Vecchio, Guaido’s envoy to the United States, told a small group of reporters at the Venezuelan embassy in Washington.
He made his comments a day after the opposition said talks mediated by Norway to try to resolve Venezuela’s political crisis had ended and put the blame on Maduro’s government.
Maduro, who has accused Guaido of leading a U.S.-directed coup attempt, said on Thursday he will not travel to New York for the U.N. General Assembly, an annual gathering of world leaders. But he said two of his envoys would attend to denounce U.S. sanctions on the OPEC nation.
Vecchio said among the factors weighing on the decision on Guaido’s attendance would be the difficulty he would face getting out of Venezuela and then returning home.
Guaido, who has been recognized as Venezuela’s rightful leader by dozens of countries, including the United States, slipped out of Venezuela in February and made a tour of Latin American capitals aimed at ratcheting up pressure on Maduro to step down.
If Guaido decides to go, Vecchio said, he will press for expanded international action against Maduro and make the case that the Socialist leader is unwilling to reach a political settlement.
The Venezuelan opposition is planning a series of events on the sidelines of the U.N. gathering to draw attention to the Venezuelan situation.
Now that talks between the two sides in Barbados have ended, the Venezuelan opposition wants European countries to impose more targeted sanctions on Maduro’s government and cut off financial transactions conducted via European institutions as well as the illicit gold trade, Vecchio said.
Guaido led a failed uprising in April against Maduro, who is accused of human rights violations and has overseen an economic collapse prompting millions to flee the country.
Reporting by Matt Spetalnick; Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Angus MacSwan
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