Venezuela’s President Maduro claims opposition spurns Pope’s call for negotiations
May 02, 2017
Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro has charged that the country’s opposition leaders are refusing to engage in peace talks, as recommended by Pope Francis.
In a Sunday television address, Maduro welcomed the Pope’s offer to help mediate in the Venezuealan political crisis. But he said that the opposition has refused to pursue the negotiations that the Pope wants. “They don’t want dialogue,” he said.
In December, peace talks broke down when Maduro’s government failed to fulfill the conditions that had been set for the negotiations. Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, who had been serving as the Vatican’s representative at the negotiating table, also withdrew from the process, indicating that there was no prospect for successful talks.
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.
The political crisis in Venezuela was heightened when the country’s top court, controlled by Maduro supporters, abolished the national assembly, sparking more intense public protests—which were backed by the country’s Catholic bishops.
Julio Borges, the president of the National Assembly, said that he would respond to the offer from Pope Francis by reiterating demands that the government move to schedule new elections. He said that “if there are not guarantees, there is no possibility of moving foward.”
- Pope Francis offers to act as mediator in Venezuelan conflict (AFP)
- Pope appeals for peace in Venezuela (CWN, 5/1)
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