Photo: Nicolas Maduro
Venezuela’s government and opposition representatives met for the first time behind closed doors to continue their dialogue aimed at resolving the political conflict behind two months of protests that have left 41 people dead and hundreds more injured.
In a four-hour meeting held with the foreign ministers of Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador and the papal nuncio in Caracas as mediators, the government rejected the amnesty law presented by the opposition designed to secure the release of people they consider to be “political prisoners.”
However, the parties did agree to set up a medical committee that will review the health of police inspector Ivan Simonovis, who was convicted of several murders during the failed April 2002 coup and whom the opposition wants released on humanitarian grounds.
Both sides agreed to condemn violence, to incorporate the plans of the government regarding public safety and to review the accusations of police abuses and torture.
They also arrived at an understanding about the constitution of a truth commission put forward by ruling party lawmakers and which will now be expanded to include “figures from the national life, well-known figures,” said the executive secretary of the MUD opposition alliance, Ramon Aveledo.
Vice President Jorge Arreaza, who represents President Nicolas Maduro’s government in the talks, said that the decision is “to incorporate mutually-agreed-upon figures” to round out the commission and to be able “to work, make investigations, interview and go to the sites and get to the truth.”
“Arriving at these conclusions took not only several hours of conversations but has also taken intense days of exchanges. The road is thus not simple, the road is not easy,” Aveledo told reporters.
“We must emphasize that at the meeting there was never any tension at any time, and it was always conducted as occurred last Thursday ... on good terms, with respect, with tolerance. We listen, we rebut respecting the right of the other (side) to speak, such that we’re moving forward in a positive way,” Arreaza said.
The leftist government and the opposition began the dialogue last week with the mediation of the Union of South American Nations and The Vatican.