Pope Francis Agrees to Mediate Dialogue in Venezuela

Pope Francis has agreed to facilitate dialogue between the Bolivarian government and opposition.

By Jeanette Charles
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Pope Francis (Reuters).
Pope Francis (Reuters).

Caracas, September 15th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Dialogue between the Bolivarian government and opposition leadership is closer on the horizon after Pope Francis agreed to serve as a mediator in talks, confirmed Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin this week. Both government officials and opposition leadership also affirmed that they have held two preliminary meetings to set the conditions for the much anticipated dialogue.

On Wednesday Pope Francis responded to a letter from UNASUR Secretary General Ernesto Samper requesting his participation in the matter.  

The Vatican’s official statement appreciated “the highest consideration demonstrated toward the Catholic Church” by UNASUR and former presidents José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero (Spain), Martín Torrijo (Panamá) and Leonel Fernández (Dominican Republic) who have been charged with accompanying dialogue efforts in Venezuela.

Pope Francis's statement also expressed that he hopes that “Those who are directly involved in the destiny of the country, by overpassing rivalries and political hostility, can recognize each other as brothers.” 

“The Holy Father blesses and accompanies with prayer this arduous mission and hopes that as soon as possible the beloved Venezuelan people can resume civil debate in a climate of mutual trust,” read one of the Vatican's earlier statements released on August 12th regarding dialogue in Venezuela.  

The Pope said he would ready and willing to participate once a formal request on behalf of the two parties were made to "formally start" the dialogue. 

Meanwhile, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) and United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) both confirmed having participating in two meetings to establish dialogue conditions.

“Since May, June, even since February, President Nicolás Maduro made an invitation, with UNASUR accompaniment, for fruitful dialogue, moreover this was approved by the greatest majority of our people that want to live in peace,” stressed Jorge Rodríguez, the President of the Referendum Signatures Verification Commission.   

Rodríguez confirmed that two meetings have occurred since then. President Maduro also said on Tuesday that Carlos Ocariz (First Justice Party/PJ), Timoteo Zambrano (Only One Time Party/UST), Freddy Guevara (Popular Will Party/VP) and Luis Aquiles Moreno (Democratic Action Party/AD) had taken part on behalf of the opposition bloc.

Meanwhile, Rodríguez affirmed that his person, Minister of Foreign Relations Delcy Rodríguez, National Assembly-member Elías Jaua and chancellery coordinator at the Venezuelan Foreign Ministry and deputy at the Latin American Parliament Roy Chaderton make up the Bolivarian government’s contingent. Rodríguez said, “Two preparatory meetings have happened for dialogue, I believe that we have advanced in this meetings for a formal installation dialogue process [to take place].” 

Rodríguez emphasized that the main themes for the dialogue will focus on the following points agreed upon with UNASUR's commission: peace, justice and rule of law; respect for public powers, discussion to overcome the economic war; preservation of rule of law and politics in peace.

In their official statement, the MUD said they participated in two private meetings without mediators. According to Venezuelan news outlet Últimas Noticias, both parties scheduled a third meeting; however, the government did not show up. 

The MUD, however, reiterated that their main points revolve around "the activation and celebration of the recall referendum."

The opposition bloc also stressed that they will continue to call for protests to defend their right to a recall referendum.

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