A coalition of Venezuelan opposition parties says it is willing to enter into talks with the government as long as certain conditions are met, the BBC reports:
The meeting was proposed by foreign ministers of the Unasur regional group to put an end to two months of anti-government protests. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro had earlier agreed to take part. It is not yet clear though whether his government will agree to the terms demanded by the opposition.
In a letter addressed to the Unasur delegation, the umbrella opposition group Table for Democratic Unity (MUD) said it was “willing to hold a true dialogue, with a clear agenda, equal conditions [for both sides] and the first meeting of which will be transmitted live on national radio and television channels”.
But some opposition figures said talks must be televised, mediated by a third party and have a set agenda after Maduro offered to meet his opponents today “without previous conditions or agenda.”
“To begin the dialogue there needs to be a clear gesture from the government,” Popular Will’s representative at the Unasur meeting, Luis Florido, said in a post on his Twitter account made after Maduro’s statement. Authorities “must free Leopoldo Lopez and the political prisoners. That’s our stance.”
But as the international community continues to tip-toe toward engagement, Venezuela is currently more polarized than at any time in its recent history, says a leading analyst.
The divide between the regime and the opposition is deeper than ever, Juan Nagel writes for Democracy Lab’s Transitions:
The opposition believes democracy has been severely degraded during the chavista era, and many are now openly calling Maduro a dictator. While the government is proud of its high-tech electoral system, the opposition thinks it is grossly unfair: Numerous irregularities are routinely reported, but they are seldom investigated. ….A recent opinion poll by local pollster IVAD suggests that a majority of Venezuelans (55 percent) share the opposition’s view on democracy in the country. The government claims to believe that the right to protest is legitimate, but the opposition, currently undersiege in the streets of Venezuela’s main cities, strongly disputes that.
Judging by recent electoral outcomes, the two sides in this struggle are of roughly equal size. But their outlooks are so radically different that it sometimes seems as if they live in different countries altogether, writes Nagel, the editor of Caracas Chronicles, and author of Blogging the Revolution.
“As the international community tries to separate truth from fiction and play a constructive role in trying to foster dialogue, they would be well served in keeping their expectations low,” he notes. RTWT
Maduro could have used his recent New York Times op-ed to apologize for the murders of demonstrators and bystanders by the Venezuelan armed forces or by the “colectivos,” the illegal, armed groups that are funded and encouraged by his government, says Reynaldo Trombetta, the leader of the Justice4Venezuela.org campaign:
He also could have apologized for the dozens of protesters who were shot and the hundreds more who were assaulted or tortured. Instead, he chose to launch fresh rhetorical attacks on his countrymen despite their legitimate protests against the terrible economic conditions in their country. It is indisputable that the forces under Mr. Maduro’s control are responsible for human rights violations. So his call for peace is nothing more than an embarrassing exercise in cynicism and manipulation.