Vatican-mediated talks seek to heal divided Venezuela
Order has broken down in the country following huge recession
A sharply divided Venezuela may be on the track to reconciliation with the help of a highly respected, neutral third party – the Vatican.
Following what many see as President Nicolas Maduro’s disastrous stewardship of the country and amid noisy calls for him to be impeached, the government and leaders of the opposition have agreed to participate in conciliatory talks, according to an announcement by the Vatican, which has been charged with mediating the talks at the request of the opposition.
A special envoy of the pope, Argentinian Archbishop Monsignor Emir Paul Tscherring, will be moderating the dialogue.
Tscherring told journalists that “the objective of the dialogues is to look for agreeance, to create an atmosphere of trust, overcome disagreement, and promote a mechanism that guarantees peaceful coexistence.”
For four months, former international leaders have been meeting with both sides in an attempt to kickstart a dialogue. Among those who have attempted to mediate are Spain’s former president, Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero.
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Venezuela, which is sharply divided and undergoing one of the worst recessions in living memory, has seen protests and calls for impeachment proceedings against Maduro.
A planned recall referendum on Maduro has been halted, leading to widespread protests.
In a special session on Sunday, the Venezuelan National Assembly, which is made up mostly of opposition parliamentarians, approved a measure that declared “there has been a breakdown of constitutional order and a continued state of coup led from the highest level of government by President Nicolas Maduro.”
This impeachment drive prompted a group of government supporters to storm the Venezuelan National Assembly building on Sunday afternoon, opposition legislators told CNN.
It is unlikely that any measures passed by the National Assembly will get traction in the courts, mostly made up of Maduro supporters.
But the protesters broke into the assembly meeting hall, stole cell phones from opposition lawmakers, threw punches and vandalized the building. Security guards tried to stop them from pushing their way to the main floor, but couldn’t stop the mob, opposition legislators said.
Pro-government lawmakers were finally able to persuade the protesters to stop the attack and leave the building.
A first meeting for the reconciliation talks is scheduled for October 30 in Margarita Island.
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CNN’s Rafael Romo, Azadeh Ansari and Marilia Brocchetto cotributed to this report.