Venezuela on edge

Talks between the government and opposition broke down last May, but recent events have fueled tensions.

Venezuela on edge

World Bulletin / News Desk

South American leaders and the head of a regional union are meeting Friday in Venezuela in an attempt to kickstart stalled talks between the government there and the opposition.

The foreign ministers from Brazil, Mauro Vieira; Colombia, María Ángela Holguín; and Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, will join the Union of South American Nations Secretary-General Ernesto Samper, for talks in Caracas.

"We are going in order for the government and the opposition to make progress to put an end to this escalation that has gripped Venezuela," Holguín was quoted as saying by NTN24. "UNASUR has always wanted the Venezuelans to resolve the situation themselves."

Talks between the opposition and the Socialist administration of President Nicolás Maduro, mediated by the Union of South American Nations, or UNASUR, and a Vatican representative in May 2014, broke down due to a lack of progress.

Venezuela is facing political and economic crises, and tensions have escalated in recent weeks after the arrest of Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezma, a staunch critic of Marudo, and the killing of a teenager by a police officer during an anti-government protest in the state of Táchira.

The opposition's marking of the first anniversary of the start of the 2014 mass anti-government protests which left 43 victims dead, on both sides of the political divide; and last year's arrest of opposition leader Leopoldo López, has also ratcheted up tensions.

Maduro, who has repeatedly accused the opposition of plotting to overthrow his government with the help of the United States, welcomed the UNASUR delegation's help.

"Thank God we have UNASUR, that allows us to navigate these battles through paths of peace," he said, according to TeleSUR.

Jesús Torrealba, leader of the MUD umbrella opposition party, said he welcomed "anyone interested in helping us salvage democracy in Venezuela," the Noticias24 news portal reported.

As the regional power, Brazil, has been criticized for not taking a more active role concerning Venezuela, particularly after Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff said recent political tensions were an "internal affair" for its neighbor.

Recent events have brought about a change in rhetoric, however, with the Ministry of External Relations releasing a statement Feb. 24 that announced Brazil would be "following with great concern events occurring in Venezuela" and urged the two sides to restart talks.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 06 Mart 2015, 21:30