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Venezuela's opposition walks away from talks

December 7, 2016

An opposition leader has blamed the government for not releasing political prisoners and allowing a referendum on the presidency. But the ruling Socialists have also expressed concern that the talks are going no where.

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro
Image: picture-alliance/abaca/AA/C. Becerra

Venezuela's opposition on Tuesday walked away from Vatican-backed talks with President Nicolas Maduro's administration aimed at calming the country's political crisis.

Jesus Torrealba, leader of the opposition coalition, said the government had not done enough since talks began in October.

The opposition has demanded that the government enact several measures to build trust, including releasing political prisoners and allowing a vote to recall Maduro's presidency.

Opposition forces have made concessions to the government by suspending planned street protests and ending a symbolic impeachment effort in Congress.

"It would be insincere to keep sitting there as if nothing has happened," Torrealba said. "We'll only sit down with the government again once they meet what was agreed on."


However, socialist party leader Diosdado Cabello on Monday said the government had also grown wary of the talks, noting that the cardinal involved in the mediation efforts had spent too much time with the opposition.

"It's irresponsible and disrespectful to think the Vatican is going to tutor Venezuela. When we say we're free and have sovereignty, it's because we're free and have sovereignty. We don't accept anyone trying to teach us," Cabello said.

Under Maduro, Venezuela has witnessed a deepening recession that created massive shortages of food and medical supplies.

While the opposition holds the president accountable for the country's economic and political crisis, Maduro has blamed Washington, claiming the US is attempting to oust him.

A handful of opposition parties have refused to join the talks all together, saying it is a ploy by the government to diffuse the movement's momentum.

ls/bw (AP, Reuters)