Crisis in Venezuela Â© Ariana Cubillos
New movement seems to be coming into the deadlocked domestic political crisis in Venezuela: Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced he would hold direct talks with the conservative opposition on neutral ground.
New movement seems to be coming into the deadlocked domestic political crisis in Venezuela: Venezuela's socialist President Nicolas Maduro announced Tuesday that he would hold direct talks with the conservative opposition on neutral ground. According to local media reports, the talks are to take place in the Dominican Republic. The Venezuelan government has nominated Jorge Rodriguez, a former vice president and socialist, to lead the negotiations. This is to leave already shortly, it was said.
The new round of negotiations was scheduled through the mediation of Dominican President Danilo Medina and former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero. However, it is still unclear whether the broad opposition alliance "Table of Unity" (MUD) will accept the invitation. "The invitation of President Danilo Medina does not signify the beginning of a formal dialogue with the government. The time for symbolic gestures is over," said a statement by the MUD, which includes about 30 parties from various political camps.
"Political solution through dialogue"
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, meanwhile, expressed his full support for Medina and Zapatero's initiative. The goal, he said, must be to find a political solution based on dialogue. Parts of the opposition already demanded the release of political prisoners as a condition for participation in the talks.
In Venezuela, a power struggle between the government and the opposition has been raging for months. According to human rights organizations, more than 100 people have died so far in mass protests against the catastrophic supply situation and the high crime rate. More than 60.000 Venezuelans have received a residence permit from the Colombian migration authority in the past four weeks alone, so that they can legally work in the neighboring country or use the health care system there.
Shortly before Maduro's announcement, the Catholic Church in Venezuela had once again urged the president to change course. She interpreted Pope Francis' recent comments on the domestic crisis in the South American country as a call to the president to reconsider his stance.
"The Pope has spoken about Venezuela. "He has made a great effort to invite the president to correct his mistakes that have caused the current crisis," the archbishop of Caracas, Cardinal Jorge Urosa, told the portal Globovision (Tuesday).
Criticism of intercepting assembly
It was not the first time that Francis had tried to influence Maduro, Urosa said. Thus, the pope had already written a letter to the president in June. At the most recent meeting with Venezuelan bishops on the sidelines of the Pope's visit to Colombia last week, Francis had expressed concern about the situation in Venezuela.
The bishops had explained to him how the political crisis had come to a head: "We talked about the catching assembly, which is not provided for in the catching in such a way, and about the political prisoners," Globovision quoted the cardinal as saying.
Attempts at mediation so far inconclusive
There had already been a round of talks mediated by the Vatican between the government and the opposition over the turn of the year, the agreements of which were not honored by the government, according to the Vatican. The church then withdrew from the talks.
Meanwhile, President Maduro has created new facts. Despite international protests, he convened an interdictory assembly that took all powers to itself. The regularly elected parliament, in which the opposition has a majority, is disempowered. Opponents accuse the government of installing a Cuban-style communist dictatorship.