News / Americas

Venezuela Reaches Out to Vatican to Mediate Crisis

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) greets supporters after his meeting with representatives of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) and the Union of South American Nations' foreign ministers in Caracas, April 8, 201
Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro (C) greets supporters after his meeting with representatives of the Venezuelan coalition of opposition parties Mesa de la Unidad (MUD) and the Union of South American Nations' foreign ministers in Caracas, April 8, 201
Venezuela's government formally invited Vatican No. 2 Cardinal Pietro Parolin on Wednesday to mediate talks with the opposition in hopes of stemming violence that has killed dozens in the nation's worst unrest in a decade.
In a letter, President Nicolas Maduro's government asked that Parolin, a former envoy to Venezuela who is now the Vatican's secretary of state, be named a “good faith witness” to a dialog agreed after two months of protests.
A Vatican spokesman confirmed the Roman Catholic Church's willingness to mediate, but gave no details.
Venezuela's opposition coalition had indicated that current Vatican envoy, Aldo Giordano, would be attending the first formal talks, which are to start on Thursday in Caracas.
Both Vatican officials are Italian.
Parolin, who represented the Vatican in Venezuela from 2009 to 2013, is a frugal, publicity-shy career diplomat.
The Vatican has helped mediate before in Latin America, including in a territorial dispute between Argentina and Chile in 1978 and a hostage standoff in Peru in 1996-1997.
Venezuela's government and the Democratic Unity opposition coalition held a first preliminary meeting on Tuesday, agreeing to start a formal dialog over issues ranging from crime and economic problems to the detention of dozens of protesters.

Capriles to attend
Henrique Capriles, the opposition's two-time presidential candidate who narrowly lost to Maduro in a vote last year, confirmed he would take part in the discussions.
“I will go to defend the truth,” he told reporters. “Debate doesn't mean our people stop protesting. Quite the opposite. Peaceful protest must continue because the problems continue.”
Hardline demonstrators, however, are not happy about the talks and say there should be no negotiations while another opposition leader, Leopoldo Lopez, and others remain in prison.
Protesters took to the streets in early February, with some openly seeking to provoke a “Venezuelan Spring” that would force Maduro out of power. There have been daily clashes since then as security forces and pro-government militants have faced off with hooded opposition demonstrators blocking streets.
With the armed forces apparently still behind him, and the opposition failing to bring out the millions they had hoped for, Maduro's position does not appear to be under threat.
He does, however, face a big challenge to remedy the roots of the crisis, including the highest inflation in the Americas, shortages of basic goods, a beleaguered private sector, and a violent crime rate that is among the world's worst.
Hundreds of people have been injured and arrested since the protests started. The dead, who number 39 according to the government, include Maduro supporters, opponents, and members of the security force.
Maduro, a 51-year-old former bus driver, has made preserving predecessor Hugo Chavez's socialist legacy the guiding principle of his government. Opponents say he is wrecking Venezuela by sticking to a failed and authoritarian model.

You May Like

Pakistan Among Developing Counties Hit Hard by Global Warming

Pakistani officials hope developed nations agree to scale back emissions, offer help in dealing with climate change

Video Speed, Social Media Shape Counterterrorism Probes

Speed is critical in effort to prevent subsequent attacks; demographics of extremists lend themselves to communicating, establishing profiles on digital platforms

Islamic State Oil Trade Seduces Friends, Foes Alike

Terrorist group rakes in up to $500 million a year in sales to customers such as Syrian government, US-supported rebels and Turkey

This forum has been closed.
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigationsi
Katherine Gypson
December 01, 2015 10:06 PM
In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Social Media Aids Counter-Terrorism Investigations

In the aftermath of the Paris attacks, officials carried out waves of raids and arrests to break up terror cells. As VOA's Katherine Gypson reports, social media can be a key tool for investigators.

Video Russia Marks World AIDS Day With Grim News

While HIV infection rates have steadied or even declined in many European countries, the caseload has grown rapidly in Russia, as VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow. Over half of the new infections were transmitted through injection drug use.

Video Pakistan Hit Hard by Global Warming

As world leaders meet in Paris to craft a new global agreement aimed at cutting climate-changing greenhouse-gas emissions, many developing countries are watching closely for the final results. While most developing nations contribute much less to global warming than developed countries, they often feel the effects to a disproportionate degree. As Saud Zafar reports from Karachi, one such nation is Pakistan. Aisha Khalid narrates his report.

Video With HIV, Can We Get to Zero?

The theme of this year's World AIDS Day is "Getting to Zero." The U.N. says new HIV infections have been reduced by 35 percent since 2000 and AIDS-related deaths are down by 42 percent since the peak in 2004. VOA's Carol Pearson takes a look at what it might take to actually have an AIDS-free generation.

Video Political Motives Seen Behind Cancelled Cambodian Water Festival

For the fourth time in the five years since more than 350 people were killed in a stampede at Cambodia’s annual water festival, authorities canceled the event this year. Officials blamed environmental reasons as the cause, but many see it as fallout from rising political tensions with a fresh wave of ruling party intimidation against the opposition. David Boyle and Kimlong Meng report from Phnom Penh.

Video African Circus Gives At-Risk Youth a 2nd Chance

Ethiopia hosted the first African Circus Arts Festival this past weekend with performers from seven different African countries. Most of the performers are youngsters coming form challenging backgrounds who say the circus gave them a second chance.

Video US Lawmakers Brace for End-of-Year Battles

U.S. lawmakers are returning to Washington for Congress’ final working weeks of the year. And, as VOA's Michael Bowman reports, a full slate of legislative business awaits them, from keeping the federal government open to resolving a battle with the White House over the admittance of Syrian refugees.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video After Terrorist Attacks, Support for Refugees Fades

The terrorists who killed and injured almost 500 people around Paris this month are mostly French or Belgian nationals. But at least two apparently took advantage of Europe’s migrant crisis to sneak into the region. The discovery has hardened views about legitimate refugees, including those fleeing the same extremist violence that hit the French capital. Lisa Bryant has this report for VOA from the Paris suburb of Cergy-Pontoise

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

As Thailand takes in the annual Loy Krathong festival, many ponder the country’s future and security. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Cuba Reimposes Limits on Doctors' Departures From Country

Move is Havana's response to US program that it sees as bid to drain Cuba of doctors, nurses, other specialists working in third countries

Cash Squeeze Maims Venezuela's Pre-election Food Imports

Hit by recession and slump in oil prices, crunch hurts Pres. Maduro's bid to fill shelves with imported meat, dairy products and medicines before Dec. 6 vote

Argentina's Ex-President Menem Sentenced for Embezzlement

Menem is currently a senator representing La Rioja province where he was born, that status as a lawmaker protects him from being imprisoned

Colombia Declines Rebel Extradition to US Amid FARC Peace Talks

Move seen as a goodwill gesture as part of peace negotiations that are approaching a March deadline

Temple Passageway May Lead to Aztec Ruler's Tomb, Experts Say

Aztecs are thought to have cremated leaders' bodies but burial site hasn't been found, so discovery at Mexico City's Templo Mayor ruin could prove significant

US-Cuba Talks Underway; Focus on Migrants, Illegal Drugs

Officials from both countries are meeting in Washington as part of efforts to normalize bilateral relations which had been frozen for half a century