Talks in Venezuela
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro cautioned opposition leaders to keep their expectations modest on Thursday as he hosted them for mediated talks intended to stem two months of deadly political unrest.
Maduro has held similar meetings previously but this was the first to include Henrique Capriles, who Maduro narrowly beat in last year’s presidential election, and the first to be brokered by foreign ministers from the Unasur bloc of South American governments.
The six-hour meeting coincided with violence that raised the death toll from the protests against Maduro’s rule to 41, and Capriles warned the unrest would escalate in the absence of political reforms.
Some basic numbers from the ongoing clashes:
Authorities said on Thursday a policeman was shot dead during a protest in western Barquisimeto city, and opposition activists said a woman died in hospital almost a month after being hit by a car while demonstrating in central Valencia.
Those fatalities brought the death toll to 41.
About 650 people have been injured since the protests broke out in early February, officials say, and more than 2,000 people have been detained. Of them, more than 170 are still behind bars.
Info on the meeting itself via El Universal: Data, numbers and particulars of the meeting.
One thing that needs to be understood is that the opposition coalition, the MUD (Mesa de la Unidad Democrática), represents a large number of parties. The fragmented nature of the opposition will, I would think, complicate negotiations.