CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Venezuela's organization of Roman Catholic bishops is accusing the government of seeking totalitarian-style rule, comments that potentially could complicate the Vatican's offer to facilitate talks between the socialist government and its opposition.
The Conference of Venezuelan Bishops is calling on President Nicolas Maduro to halt his crackdown on critics who have been protesting in the streets for seven weeks. The conference president is Bishop Diego Padron. Speaking in Caracas on Wednesday, he accused Maduro of attempting to criminalize dissent.
The statement comes a few days after the Vatican said it was willing to facilitate talks between the two sides. Maduro indicated he would accept such talks, but the position of the various groups that constitute the opposition remains unclear.
The bishops association has periodically criticized the Venezuelan government.