Catholic World News

Venezuela faces violence if negotiations break down, Vatican envoy warns

November 08, 2016

Venezuela will face a “very ugly” confrontation if talks between the government and opposition leaders break down, warns a Vatican official who has been instrumental in mediating the negotiations.

Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli told the daily La Nacion of Argentina that early meetings between the government and opposition had been “exhausting.” But he said that despite the difficulties, the talks were the only realistic means of avoiding a major conflict.

“If it happens that one side or the other wants to end the dialogue, it’s not the Pope but the Venezuelan people who will lose, becaues the road ahead could truly be that of blood,” the archbishop said.

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.

Archbishop Celli has played a vital role in arranging the current negotiations, which are scheduled to continue next week. Archbishop Celli, an Italian native, had been president of the Pontifical Council for Social Communications until March, when that office was merged into the newly formed Secretariat for Communications.


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