Protest Leader Criticism of Venezuelan President’s Talks
The Jailed Venezuelan protest leader Leopoldo Lopez on Friday scoffed at President Nicolas Maduro’s efforts to open up talks with the opponents and the businessman after a month of the demonstrations and violence that have killed at least 17 people.
Maduro has withstood the worst of explosions from the protesters against his socialist government which exposed deep discontent with the economic problems and brought the nation’s worst unrest in about a decade. Some of the students are still setting up roadblocks and clashing with police in Caracas and the western state of Tachira. However the number of protesters has dropped as many Venezuelans have begun heading for the beach to enjoy the long weekend for Carnival celebrations.
In order to ease the crisis, Maduro has been holding talks with the business leaders as well as the church leaders and some of the anti-government politicians, though the main opposition figures such as two time presidential candidate Henrique Capriles have boycotted them. Lopez, an opposition leader who is facing charges of fomenting the violence stated that Maduro’s offer of dialogue was a hypocritical move to try to deflate the protest while failing to address the deep seated problems behind them. Lopez said in a message from Ramo Verde military prison given to his wife who tweeted it from his account, “’The dialogue’ is a tactical retreat as a result of the pressure in the streets. It’s not real conviction.”
“Maduro’s dialogue is: ‘come to Miraflores (presidential palace) and while I speak to the nation, I pursue, kill and repress in the streets’.” More than 250 people have been hurt during the unrest and another 500 or so have been arrested according to the authorities. Venezuela’s state prosecutor said that 17 people have died, and the latest victim shot while attempting to dismantle a barricade in Carabobo state.