Venezuelan opposition to meet LatAm foreign ministers

AFP , Thursday 15 May 2014

National guards detain a group of anti-government protesters during a protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas May 14, 2014 (Photo: Reuters)

Venezuela's main opposition coalition said Thursday it will meet with South American foreign ministers and a Vatican envoy on Sunday to discuss stalled political talks with the government.

The opposition had suspended the talks earlier this week in response to a new wave of arrests of anti-government protesters.

"We hope that the foreign ministers and the papal envoy, in their capacity as mediators, will make the government see the need to make decisions and change their attitude if they want to see the dialogue succeed," said Ramon Jose Medina, the coordinator of the opposition coalition Democratic Unity, or MUD.

The coalition is also upset by official remarks ignoring agreements reached in previous meetings and a lack of information about the fate of jailed dissidents.

The opposition representatives will meet with the foreign ministers of Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador -- all members of the regional grouping Unasur -- as well as Vatican envoy Aldo Giordano.

The leftist government of President Nicolas Maduro and opposition representatives began holding the talks April 10 to try to defuse an escalating political crisis.

Public anger over violent crime, soaring inflation and widespread shortages of basic goods ignited a wave of nationwide protests, beginning in February.

At least 42 people have been killed and more than 800 injured in often violent clashes as police and government troops have sought to crush the protests.

The government-opposition talks have sputtered almost from the start, amid deep distrust on both sides.

On Wednesday, police arrested more than 100 people and fired tear gas at protesters who hurled stones and fireworks at a ministry building in the capital.

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