Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro said Monday that he had accepted the proposal of the foreign ministers from the Union of South American Nations to meet with representatives of the opposition.
“We had a rather broad conversation. They proposed to me to have a meeting tomorrow (Tuesday) with the opposition delegation and, well, I accepted, as I’ve been calling for political dialogue, for peace, for democracy for eight weeks,” said Maduro in public remarks at the end of his meeting with the diplomats.
“I’m sure that if that meeting ends up getting set ... it’s going to be a big message of peace, of democracy, from our country to all our people,” the president said.
The foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Uruguay and Suriname comprise part of the second committee that the regional organization has sent to Venezuela to contribute to dialogue amid sometimes-violent protests that have left 39 people dead.
The fatalities have included both opponents and supporters of the leftist government as well as eight members of the security forces.
Maduro in late February convened a peace conference that was attended by representatives of social, political and economic sectors, as well as by representatives of the opposition on their own account, but not by the parties that are institutional adversaries of the government.
The president said that “I hope” the political leaders of the opposition Table for Democratic Unity, or MUD, alliance “don’t sit back” and do nothing but rather sit down to talk.
On Sunday in a communique, MUD hailed the return to Caracas of the foreign ministers, whose visit - it emphasized - “will be useful” if the Maduro government “makes a sincere commitment to dialogue.”