There are talks underway in Venezuela, as reported by The Washington Post:
“Venezuelan opposition leaders began a late-night meeting with President Nicolás Maduro and his cabinet Thursday in a possible first step toward ending two months of anti-government protests and street clashes that have left at least 41 dead.
The meeting was broadcast live on Venezuelan television and radio, at the insistence of the opposition, and was attended by mediators from Brazil, Ecuador, Colombia and the Vatican. The representative of the Holy See in Venezuela, Aldo Giordano, opened the meeting by reading a written statement from Pope Francis urging both sides to put aside differences and summon the courage to reach an agreement.
Maduro followed, speaking for more than half an hour, and insisted that the encounter was a “dialogue,” not a negotiation. “I’m willing to debate all of the country’s problems,” he said. “But we need to join together in condemning violence as a way to force political change.”
With 11 members of the opposition and 11 members from the government side scheduled to speak, it appeared likely that the meeting would stretch well past midnight. Both sides indicated that future meetings would be required to work out the biggest sticking points between the two sides, especially the fate of jailed protesters. Henrique Capriles, the opposition standard-bearer who narrowly lost to Maduro in last April’s president election, was the most prominent figure on the anti-government side.
While the encounter allowed opposition leaders an unusually open platform to speak directly to a national audience and the president himself, it was also notable for the absence of the opposition’s more hard-line anti-Maduro wing.
That’s the branch that has been in the streets battling national guardsmen and blocking traffic with flaming barricades, and it may be unwilling to heed any agreements that emerge from the talks with Maduro.
María Corina Machado, the congresswoman who has emerged as the most prominent opposition voice in recent weeks after the arrest of fellow anti-Maduro hard-liner Leopoldo López, boycotted the event, saying no meeting with the president should be occurring while protesters and opposition leaders remain in jail.”
I’m OK with a dialogue but the opposition should demand several things:
1) Who will be held responsible for the deaths? 43 people are dead and that is unacceptable. Who gave the order to shoot people peacefully protesting?
2) When will the government allow a free press and media? It’s a shame that the world has learned about the atrocities from the people on the streets using social media. Venezuela must restore the vibrant media that it had years ago.
There are probably other issues but those are my two starting points.
The Maduro administration has lots of blood in its hands and it’s time to demand explanations.
P. S. You can hear my chat with Mr Cazorla in Venezuela here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.