In Venezuela, There’s Talk of Peace (With Some Fine Print)

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Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro speaks at a meeting with a South American delegation of foreign ministers at the Miraflores Presidential Palace in Caracas, Venezuela, on March 25, 2014.
Image: Fernando Llano/Associated Press

Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro said on Monday that he is willing to initiate peace talks with the opposition.

After meeting with a group of foreign ministers from the Union of South American States (Unasur), Maduro said he is ready to offer a “very positive message of peace,” according to the BBC. However, opposition parties say they will only come to the table if Maduro meets certain conditions.

“They proposed a meeting with the delegation from the opposition for tomorrow, and I accepted,” Maduro said on state television, according to Bloomberg. “I’ll be ready, I’ll be there where Unasur tells me to be.”

But the umbrella opposition group, Table for Democratic Unity (MUD), said it was “willing to hold a true dialogue, with a clear agenda, equal conditions [for both sides] and the first meeting of which will be transmitted live on national radio and television channels.”

It’s still unclear whether Maduro will agree to these conditions. The government and the opposition have not yet met after the beginning of the protests. But this could be a sign that the two parties are willing to move toward a diplomatic solution to end the country-wide protests that have resulted in 39 deaths over the past two months.

Part of the opposition, however, may not be happy about these talks because they’re brokered by Unasur, an association that is seen as an ally of the government and the “Chavismo,” according to the Spanish daily El Pais.

In fact, Luis Florido, a member of the party founded by jailed opposition leader Leopoldo Lopez, said the government will need to do a “clear gesture” before any peace talks begin.

He added that the authorities must also release Lopez and other political prisoners. “That’s our stance,” he said.

Protests in Venezuela mapped

The map below shows the first month of the demonstrations that swept Venezuela. They are organized by date. Click on each pin to expand information about the event.

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