Maduro Unveils Proposals for Dialogue with Opposition
Maduro presented three proposals to advance the mediation process this week (Prensa Presidencial).
Caracas – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced three proposals for UNASUR-mediated talks between his government and the country’s right-wing opposition Tuesday.
“The first [proposal] is the creation of a commission for truth, justice, and reparations for the victims to compensate for all of the harm caused by the coups, guarimbas from 1999 to 2016,” the socialist leader explained.
Over the past six months, the Maduro government has pushed the idea of a truth and justice commission as an alternative to the opposition-controlled parliament’s Amnesty Law, which sought to exonerate individuals convicted of a vast range of felonies and misdemeanors over the past seventeen years, provided that they were committed in the context of political protests.
The South American president also proposed the convening of a meeting between representatives of Venezuela’s five branches of government in order to resolve political disputes and restore the normal functioning of government under the constitution.
Since taking office in January, the opposition-majority National Assembly has been at loggerheads with the executive, the Supreme Court, and the National Electoral Council (CNE) over clashing interpretations of the division of powers outlined in the nation’s constitution.
Lastly, Maduro called for the signing of an “agreement for peace and nonviolence” in order to avoid the violent escalation of the country’s political conflict.
In recent weeks, the right-wing opposition coalition, the MUD, has relaunched violent anti-government protests that have seen demonstrators attack police and damage public property.
The head of state’s proposals follow the first round of UNASUR-mediated indirect dialogue between the government and the opposition held in Punta Cana late last month.
Though no agreement was reached, the meeting was welcomed as a key first step by Jose Rodriguez Zapatero, Leonel Fernandez, and Martin Torrijos– former presidents of Spain, Dominican Republic, and Panama– who agreed to act as mediators between the two sides.
The MUD, for its part, has outlined four preconditions for talks with the government, including the activation of the recall process, the release of so-called “political prisoners”, a solution to the “humanitarian crisis”, and “respect” for legislation passed by the National Assembly.
Speaking on Wednesday, Miranda Governor and former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles lashed out Maduro’s proposals, exclaiming, “For there to be dialogue, there must be respect.”
“[Maduro] speaks of signing a non-violence agreement, but who are the ones who confront [protests] and prevent them from reaching the CNE?,” he added, referring to the Venezuelan government’s enforcement of a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting protests in the vicinity of CNE offices at the behest of electoral personnel concerned for their safety.
On May 19, an unauthorized opposition march towards the heavily pro-government heart of Caracas saw protesters attack and wound seven police officers and vandalize government student housing.
The Maduro government, meanwhile, has received backing from the leftist regional bloc, the ALBA, which issued a statement on Wednesday, applauding the opening of UNASUR-mediated talks with the opposition and calling for “absolute respect for Venezuelan sovereignty”.
The MUD has yet to officially respond to the Venezuelan president’s proposals for dialogue.
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