Venezuelan president appears ready for talks on crisis

Posted November 02, 2016

Relations of Maduro and the parliament have been strained since the election of a new opposition-controlled parliament in January, as the opposition was not in favor of the current leader, in particular, it considered the issue of Maduro's impeachment, as well as tried to introduce an amendment to reduce the term of the president from six to four years.

Although normally at loggerheads with Washington, President Nicolas Maduro met senior U.S. diplomat Tom Shannon on Monday (Oct 31). The two had a "very positive" conversation about the start of the talks, the Venezuelan president said. "But I do trust Pope Francis", said former opposition presidential candidate Henrique Capriles. As well as suspending its parliamentary proceedings against Maduro, the opposition also agreed to postpone a march planned for Thursday to the presidential palace that the government had described as part of a coup plot.

Amid a protracted economic crisis and nationwide street demonstrations last week, Maduro was called to appear before congress after the government suspended a recall referendum against his rule.

In a sign that it is apparently serious about the talks, the government on Monday released five imprisoned opposition members. Numerous president's foes fear they could be a stalling tactic created to ease pressure on the unpopular socialist leader, whom Venezuelans overwhelmingly blame for triple-digit inflation and widespread food and medicine shortages. They are devils capable of anything.

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The opposition accuses the National Electoral Council of colluding with the government to scupper their attempts at removing President Maduro from office.

Maduro has been accused of creating a dictatorship by blocking a recall referendum on his rule and of illegally overriding the legislature, which was taken over by the opposition in a landslide election previous year.

Analysts had said the "trial" of Maduro by the lawmakers would have been largely symbolic, as the constitution does not allow for such a process against the president.

Seated at a museum on the outskirts of Caracas as the talks began late Sunday, Maduro expressed his "total and absolute commitment to dialogue". Human rights groups say more than 100 people are being held for political reasons by Maduro's government. He urged both sides to make concessions in order for the talks not to fail as on several previous occasions.

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The opposition was planning to conclude a political trial of Maduro in the National Assembly on Tuesday. "The country is waiting for authentic signals to comprehend that dialogue is a reality".

The best-known of the released men is Carlos Melo, leader of a small party in the Democratic Unity opposition alliance who was held for two months.

"Without freedom for the political prisoners in the next few days this process of dialogue can't continue", he told reporters after emerging from the meeting.

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