Venezuela Opposition set terms for Maduro meeting

Venezuela's Opposition coalition have set out terms for a meeting with President Maduro mediated by UNASUR foreign ministers.

Venezuela Opposition set terms for Maduro meeting

World Bulletin / News Desk

Several parties from Venezuela's opposition coalition said on Tuesday they would not enter into peace talks with the ruling government until certain demands had been met, including the release of their members jailed for ongoing anti-government protests.

The news comes after both President Nicolás Maduro and the coalition of opposition parties, Mesa de la Unidad Democrática, the MUD, signaled Monday that they were prepared to enter peace talks after meeting with group of foreign ministers from UNASUR, the Union of South American Nations, currently in Venezuela on their second attempt at bringing the sides together in two weeks.

Despite rumors that three members of each group would reunite for talks later Tuesday, there was no official confirmation and it remains unclear whether the meeting will now take place Tuesday.

However, MUD Executive Secretary Ramón Guillermo Aveledo announced, via the Unidad website, that UNASUR representatives had confirmed the government “was willing to accept” MUD's terms for coming to the table.

The UNASUR group had sat down separately with President Maduro and opposition leader Henrique Capriles on Monday. It was an attempt to bring an end to over two months of violence, sparked by anti-government protests, in which at least 39 people have died.

'No advance until members released'

But the director of the opposition Voluntad Popular (Popular Will) party, Luis Florido, said Tuesday that a number of opposition parties had vowed at a meeting of the MUD that no advance in dialogue would be possible without the jailed members' release.

“Today we will not attend the UNASUR meeting. We have set out clearly our position, now dialogue depends on concrete actions from the [Maduro] regime,” Florido said in a sequence of tweets.

“For us, dialogue without change solves nothing.”

Florido said that as long as the authorities kept students and political party members, including party leader Leopoldo López, behind bars, a string of opposition parties would not begin peace talks.

López, who has been held in a military prison outside the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, since February 18, wrote in a letter published in Spanish newspaper El País on Monday that “getting out of this crisis that has plunged Venezuela into darkness depends on everyone.”

López, a more radical and controversial member of the often-fractured opposition coalition, called on his followers to “let [the government] know how many there are of us who wish to see change.”

'Clear agenda, equal conditions'

President Maduro had agreed to talks Monday after meeting with the UNASUR commission, and reminded crowds he had been willing to take part in such an event for more than the past two months.

The MUD umbrella opposition group followed by saying it was ready for “true dialogue with clear agenda and equal conditions” as long as the meeting was broadcast live on national channels.

But the opposition group also raised concerns that it had not seen an end to the repression of its members and street protests, nor an end to the “threatening tone” from President Maduro and his ruling Socialist party, which has since removed and jailed two opposition mayors.

The opposition has previously shunned offers of peace talks as “photo opportunities” for President Maduro, whom they accused of acting in bad faith.

Protesters and the government have blamed each other of using excessive force during the anti-government protests. Maduro has repeatedly called protesters “fascists” and accused them of attempting a coup d'état with backing from the United States.

Last Mod: 09 Nisan 2014, 11:59
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