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Venezuelan cardinal: Church will not join crisis talks until elections scheduled

February 23, 2017

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino has announced that Catholic bishops will not participate in talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition leaders until elections are scheduled.

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 resulted in severe shortages of food, the Venezuelan parliament, which is controlled by the opposition, had called for 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.

In January, Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who had been acting as the Vatican’s mediator for the talks, declined to participate in negotiating sessions, in a clear sign of the Vatican’s dissatisfaction with the government’s approach. At that time, opposition leaders were complaining that the Maduro regime had made no move to comply with the terms that had been set for the talks, including the scheduling of elections.

“The agreements reached at the meeting on 30 October must be respected,” Cardinal Urosa said on February 22. “Elections have to be held as soon as possible.”

 
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