Venezuela opposition threatens to end crisis talks

AP News
Posted: May 13, 2014 10:44 AM
Venezuela opposition threatens to end crisis talks

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Members of Venezuela's opposition said Tuesday they may pull out of crisis negotiations with the government over what they consider an unjustified crackdown on recent protests.

Negotiators for the Democratic Unity alliance said that the mass arrest of more than 200 student activists last week and security forces' refusal Monday to let protesters march downtown are souring the climate for the month-old talks.

To express its disapproval, the opposition unilaterally suspended closed-door meetings scheduled for Monday and Tuesday, according to Ramon Jose Medina, one of the talks' coordinators. A meeting Thursday with foreign ministers from several South American nations who are mediating the talks is also in doubt.

"The government will be responsible if the dialogue fails," Medina said in a statement.

The talks are focused on easing tensions after more than three months of unrest that has left at least 41 people on both sides dead.

But progress on issues ranging from a proposal to free jailed activists to the filling of positions on the national electoral council has been painstakingly slow, giving room to claims by students and hardliners that the talks are a ploy by President Nicolas Maduro to deflect international criticism.