HAVANA TIMES — The president of Venezuela, Nicolas Maduro, met with a delegation of the opposition Mesa de la Unidad Democrática (MUD) to find common ground for a possible dialogue to overcome the situation of turmoil following nearly two months of anti-government protests, reports dpa news.
The secretary general of the MUD, Ramón Guillermo Aveledo, clarified that the meeting does not represent the beginning of a dialogue but instead a rapproachment sponsored by the committee of foreign ministers of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) currently in Venezuela to see if conditions exist for dialogue.
“This is not the beginning of dialogue, this is an exploratory meeting in which we come to see, at the invitation of the South American foreign ministers, if there are conditions for a dialogue to occur,” said Aveledo when questioned by the media.
He added that the idea is to discuss the agenda of both parties and choose a reliable mediator that allows for organizing a dialogue with a concrete place and time.
Meanwhile, President Maduro issued no statements after reaching the headquarters of the foreign ministry accompanied by First Lady Cilia Flores, and Foreign Minister Elias Jaua.
The Venezuelan leader had previously invited his opponents to participate in the government’s National Peace Conference to initiate a dialogue “without conditions” but most opponents declined the invitation.
Opponents argue that it is impossible to establish a dialogue while the government continues to repress protests or holds protesters in jail.
The MUD has conditioned any dialogue to the approval of an amnesty law for detainees during protests, the establishment of an impartial Truth Commission to clarify the deaths in recent weeks and disarming violent groups linked to the government, which they termed “paramilitaries.”
The committee of Unasur foreign ministers seeks to establish a dialogue to end the protests that erupted in February and has left 39 dead and over 600 injured.
Maduro says the protests are part of a “soft coup” that seeks to overthrow his government, while opponents criticize the “brutal repression” of police forces for causing the majority of the victims.