Opposition leaders agree to halt impeachment procudres against the Venezuelan President, but demanded that all politicial prisoners be released and elections are held rather soon.Venezuela’s opposition-led Parliament, postponed on Tuesday the beginning of impeachment procedures against President Nicolas Maduro in view of a nascent dialogue with the Government, National Assembly Speaker Henry Ramos Allup announced.
Ramos Allup explained it was by no means a capitulation for the opposition but part of the search a solution to the crisis, rather.
Maduro’s ruling party insisted on the “unconstitutionality” of impeachment, but acknowledged “determination” of the opposition majority to approve the suspension of the proceedings with the aim of promoting the dialogue started on Sunday.
Deputy Hector Rodriguez of the governing Chavist Party, asked the opposition to join the “Bolivarian economic agenda” to fight the political crisis in Venezuela.
In a separate decision, the Venezuelan opposition halted all plans for a rally towards the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, scheduled for Thursday, but conditioned the continuity of the negotiating process on the immediate release of more than a hundred “political prisoners” and to call for early presidential election.
“You want dialogue?, they have to dialogue with those who are in that table must be Leopoldo Lopez, Antonio Ledezma and Manuel Rosales. Those leaders who are in the shadow of a prison,” said the executive secretary of the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), Jesus Torrealba, referring to other opposition leaders under arest.
Both sides began formal talks on Sunday, before foreign facilitators, including a representative of the Vatican in order to advance a dialogue that goes beyond the acute political and economic crisis in the country.
Maduro’s government released three opposition activists arrested just over a month ago. “There has to be more”, Torrealba said. Among those released were Carlos Melo, who was arrested in late August by the Sebin intelligence service, accused of transporting explosives, and Andrés Moreno and Marco Trejo after little more than a month behind bars accused of “damaging the morale of the Armed Forces” for the release of a video where a member of the National Guard is portrayed in grief due to Venezuela’ss triple-digit inflation, economic recession and shortages of basic goods.
According to human rights groups, there are still more than a hundred activists jailed, while the Socialist government has denied the existence of “political prisoners”.
Two weeks ago, the electoral referee suspended a recall referendum against Maduro, increasing political tensions in the oil-rich country.
Maduro thanked the international observers to this process of dialogue: the committee of former presidents of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur) and the Vatican, also made a positive evaluation on the meeting between the parties. On Monday he met with the papal envoy archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, the former Prime Minister of Spain Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Thomas Shannon and later said that everyone saw a positive start.
The president said he was “the happiest person yesterday” when the meeting started, and is now “very happy” because “there is a process of dialogue” in Venezuela.
Maduro called for a stripping down of hatred after asking the opponents who do not want dialogue to join this process and said he had a chance to meet Jesus Torrealba in person. Torrealba, for his part, made a request to Maduro’s Government to immediately release political prisoners as a first condition to ensure the continuity of the dialogue.
“We believe that without concrete actions – immediately, in the coming days or in the coming hours – by releasing political prisoners, the dialogue process cannot continue,” but added that MUD is ready to change the idea of a recall with “a political agreement allowing the progress of presidential elections.”
Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino said that the success of the dialogue will depend on how the opponents raise the demands of the people of Venezuela, since, in his opinion, the government must understand that “they have to change.”
”We require the president to respect the Constitution, to respect the opposition, which will open the door to the popular consultation (…) we must demand the president to have a different attitude, to stop with that violent communication and promote a real meeting,” he said.