Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


Venezuela president accepts facilitator for talks

28 March 2014, 14:55

Caracas - President Nicolas Maduro has agreed to enter talks with Venezuela's opposition with the help of an outside facilitator, a group of visiting South American foreign ministers said on Thursday.

The announcement came after two days of meetings the foreign ministers held with government officials, student protesters and human rights groups aimed at bringing about dialogue after weeks of deadly unrest.

The diplomats didn't say where the "good faith witness" would come from, but Maduro has said he was open to international observers. He even floated a name: Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican secretary of state, who was the Holy See's ambassador to Venezuela until he was summoned to Rome late last year.

Diplomats were still working out the details of the talks. Both sides have said they doubt their counterparts are genuinely willing to negotiate in good faith.

Alternating between statesman and the joker Venezuelans have come to expect, Maduro also offered to stop calling protesting students "Chuckies," after the diabolic doll of Hollywood fame.

"I'm going to treat you softly so that you come to Miraflores," Maduro said in a whispered tone, referring to the presidential palace. "Come humbly, as I come humbly."

Renounce violence

Opposition politician Andres Velasquez said he hoped the outside facilitator would seek common ground, and added that he believed Maduro was finally taking outside pressure into account.

Maduro's administration also accepted another of the delegation's suggestions: the creation of a human rights commission that will report directly to the president and look into allegations of abuse by security forces.

His year-old government has been widely criticised for its tough crackdown on opponents protesting galloping inflation, rampant crime and shortages of basic goods like toilet paper and corn flour. Weeks of clashes between protesters and loyalists have left at least 32 people dead on both sides.

In their statement, the foreign ministers call on all parties to renounce violence.

Hours before the announcement, the US State Department issued its strongest comment yet on the troubles in Venezuela, saying it would consider imposing sanctions if Maduro didn't reconcile with his opponents.

The State Department's top official for Latin America said sanctions could become an "important tool" to pressure Maduro.

"If there is no movement, no possibility of dialogue, if there's no democratic space for the opposition, obviously we have to think about this, and we are thinking about this," Assistant Secretary of State Roberta S Jacobson told reporters in Washington.

She added that the US would work with its partners in the region to impose any such measures.

Maduro's administration responded that it categorically rejected US interference in Venezuela's internal matters.

Also on Thursday, a spokesperson for the International Monetary Fund warned Venezuela that it must restore balance to its economy and offered technical assistance to tame inflation that hit 57% in February.

- AP


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...