Venezuela opposition won’t attend scheduled talks with government


CARACAS,  (Reuters) – Venezuela’s opposition said yesterday it will not send representatives to the Dominican Republic for talks with President Nicolas Maduro’s government due to lack of progress on issues from human rights to elections.

Following months of anti-Maduro protests earlier this year that led to at least 125 deaths, both sides sent delegations to meet the Dominican Republic’s president this month for talks over a possible solution to Venezuela’s deep political crisis.

But the opposition said on Tuesday it was pulling out of the talks planned for Wednesday for fear of a time-wasting “show” that may hand the unpopular Maduro a breather in the midst of economic crisis.

“There won’t be anyone traveling to Dominican Republic,” opposition Democratic Unity coalition tweeted.

“We hope that in coming days they meet requirements, our desire is that this comes to fruition.”

The opposition want a date for the next presidential election, due by the end of 2018, with guarantees it will be free and fair. It is also calling for freedom for hundreds of jailed activists, a foreign humanitarian aid corridor, and respect for the opposition-led congress.

Opposition leaders face scepticism from their supporters, many of whom view a potential negotiation as a betrayal of dead protesters and legitimization of an autocrat.

Maduro, however, is eager to show the world his government is entering a dialogue following U.S. financial sanctions that have further battered Venezuela’s economy.

Amid a fourth straight year of recession, millions of Venezuelans are suffering food shortages and rampant inflation.

With Spain pushing for the European Union to adopt restrictive measures against members of the Venezuelan government, Maduro may be hoping to dodge further sanctions.

The Information Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Maduro says the opposition are coup-plotters seeking to sabotage socialism in oil-rich Venezuela under the guise of peaceful protests. He says a recently constituted legislative superbody has brought peace to the South American nation of 30 million.

But many major foreign powers do not recognize the body given its origins in a controversial election that the opposition boycotted.




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