CARACAS, Nov 7, (Pakistan Point News - APP - 07th Nov, 2016 ) - A shaky truce in Venezuela between President Nicolas Maduro and the opposition has curbed months of escalating hostility, but talks on the country's political and economic crisis leave little room for optimism. Almost as soon as the truce was declared on Tuesday, the two sides resumed trading threats and insults, poisoning the environment ahead of Vatican-backed negotiations set Friday.
The opposition Democratic Unity Table (MUD) called on the government to agree to early elections in the first quarter of 2017 -- well before Maduro's term ends in 2019. The leftist president testily replied he would accept no "ultimatums," repeating his vow to serve out his term and accusing the opposition of sowing "false hopes." "I want to alert you all, especially the opposition's supporters: They are lying to you again," he said Thursday in a national address.
His second-in-command, Diosdado Cabello, dared the opposition to ditch the talks. "I don't see much future for (the talks), especially when these people say their demand is to have early elections in the first quarter of 2017," he said Sunday in an interview with private tv network Televen. "If they want to walk out, let them. There won't be any general elections here.... We won't accept anything that's outside the constitution." Pope Francis's envoy for the talks, Italian Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, warned their failure could spell a bloodbath. "If one delegation or the other ends the dialogue, it's not the pope but the Venezuelan people who will lose, because the path then could truly be one of blood," he told Argentine daily La Nacion in an interview published Saturday.