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Vatican mediator stays away as Venezuelan crisis talks falter

January 20, 2017

A Vatican archbishop who has been acting as mediator in talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition leaders has declined to join in the latest sessions, in a gesture that appears to show the Vatican’s dismay over the government’s approach to the negotiations.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli indicated that he would not be present for this week’s talks. Archbishop Aldo Giordano, the apostolic nuncio in Venezuela, will take his place. The failure of the Vatican troubleshooter to join in the latest round of negotiations suggests that the Vatican is troubled by the government’s failure to show any commitment to the process. Opposition leaders have complained consistently that the goverment has failed to live up to the terms of the agreement under which the crisis talks were begun.

The talks are designed to break in impasse between the government of President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition. After months of catastrophic economic decline that has results in severe shortages of food, the Venezuelan parliament, which is controlled by the opposition, had scheduled a referendum vote on Maduro’s leadership. But the president—who controls the courts and the military—cancelled the vote, prompting the opposition to say that Maduro had in effect staged a coup, acting outside the limits of his constitutional authority.

 
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