Venezuela opposition says talks with government “in crisis”

CARACAS, (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition warned that talks with the government of President Nicolas Maduro are “in crisis” due to repression of student demonstrations and officials’ refusal to grant concessions that could defuse three months of street protests.

Ramon Guillermo Aveledo, head of the opposition umbrella group MUD, said Socialist Party leaders have undermined the dialogue with constant insults and a refusal to consider amnesty for opposition-linked prisoners.

“We can say today, thirty days after the process started, that the dialogue is in crisis and it is the fault of the government,” said Aveledo in a statement late on Tuesday.

An opposition source said it was unlikely they would attend Thursday’s scheduled next round of talks, which are being mediated by representatives of the Vatican and Unasur group of South American nations as a way to stem this year’s unrest.

Maduro on Tuesday night said he did not plan to halt dialogue and hoped the next round would go forward.

The MUD is also seeking the release of demonstrators arrested during recent protests, as well as participation in the selection of new leaders of Venezuela’s electoral council.

In what has been the OPEC member’s worst unrest in a decade, at least 42 people have died in violence around the protests and about 800 have been injured. About 150 people remain in jail from nearly 3,000 rounded up since February.

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