Caracas, May 1, 2017 (venezuelanalysis.com) – Venezuela's opposition came under fire from both Pope Francis and the former leftist president of Uruguay, Jose “Pepe” Mujica, this past weekend.
In an interview with Uruguayan media, Mujica accused opposition figures of acting in an irresponsible way and putting the future of Venezuela in danger, reports teleSUR.
“What scares me most about Venezuela is the opposition, or an important part of it,” commented Mujica.
“I think there is a climate of radicalization that has turned irrational, and that in the long term that will favor the right-wing… That is very dangerous with Trump in the United States,” he continued.
The former politician, who is widely respected across the continent, also hit out at the current secretary general of the OAS and his former foreign minister from 2010-2015, Luis Almagro, for acting to stoke regional tensions in relation to Venezuela.
Mujica famously wrote a public letter officially ending his relationship with his former cabinet member in 2016, in rejection of his attempts earlier that year to have Venezuela suspended from the OAS on human rights grounds. Almagro once again unsuccessfully lobbied to have the organization’s Democratic Charter applied against Venezuela at the end of March this year, eventually leading to the Venezuelan government’s decision last week to withdraw from the regional body, citing interventionism in its domestic affairs.
Almagro has been consistently accused of acting with bias towards the Venezuelan government by regional leaders such as Bolivian President Evo Morales and Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.
“The radicalisation that Almagro is carrying out in the OAS is a danger, not just to Venezuela, but for the whole continent,” said the former Uruguayan head of state.
He continued; “We are very well accustomed to speeches in defense of democracy and human rights, against weapons of mass destruction. And following that comes a terrible military intervention from the United States. The worst thing that Latin Americans can do is give bombs to interventionism”.
Meanwhile, in remarks made over the weekend, Pope Francis also waded in to Venezuela’s political crisis between the opposition-controlled National Assembly and the Maduro government, which exploded in violent opposition-led street protests at the beginning of April.
According to comments by the Pope, the Venezuelan opposition bears significant responsibility for the failure of Vatican-mediated dialogue that broke down at the end of 2016. The opposition leadership walked out after the government failed to concede to a string of its demands.
“It wasn’t successful because the proposals were not accepted and I know that now they are insisting… I believe that it (dialogue) has to be under very clear conditions. Part of the opposition doesn't want that. It’s curious, because the same opposition is divided,” said the head of the Catholic Church.
The Pope also went on to make an additional call to cease the bloodshed in Venezuela this past Sunday, citing the political violence that has claimed the lives of 32 people since the beginning of the month. To date ten people have died at the hands of opposition protesters and five people have been killed by state security forces, while the rest of the fatalities remain unaccounted for.
“I make a heartfelt call to the government and all members of Venezuelan society to avoid any resort to violence, may human rights be respected in Venezuela and negotiated solutions sought to solve the serious humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis afflicting the population,” he added.
But opposition leaders hit back almost immediately at the Pope’s claim that divisions existed amongst its ranks.
“I heard the declarations of the Pope, he talks as if the opposition is divided, that’s not true. He talks as if some of us wanted dialogue and others do not. Venezuelans all want dialogue, but we are not willing (to take part in) a “Zapatero” dialogue,” said Miranda Governor Henrique Capriles Radonski, referring to former Spanish President Jose Zapatero who also played a key role in mediating the talks.
For its part, the opposition coalition, the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), released a statement responding to the Pope’s statements but rejecting the idea of further dialogue.
“The MUD, in a unitary manner and without exceptions, has made it clear before the Venezuelan people and the world that the only dialogue that will be accepted today in Venezuela is the dialogue of the vote as the only way to untangle the crisis,” reads the letter.
This May 1, opposition supporters took to the streets demanding that presidential elections scheduled for 2018 be held immediately, as well as the purging of Venezuela’s judicial and electoral branches of government of “pro-government” officials.
A recent poll carried out by the independent think tank Hinterlaces reported that 65% of Venezuelans prefer to wait until 2018 for presidential elections to be carried out.