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  • Mediators of talks between Venezuelan government and opposition will discuss their progress.

    Mediators of talks between Venezuelan government and opposition will discuss their progress. | Photo: Archive

Published 21 June 2016
Opinion

The meeting took place two days before the body will discuss whether or not to apply the Democratic Charter in Venezuela.

The Organization of American States overwhelmingly supported dialogue between the Venezuelan government and opposition rather than intervention, with former Spanish Prime Minister Luis Rodriguez Zapatero telling diplomats that helping the country through its current challenges require "respect for the country's sovereignty."

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Delegates from the UNASUR-mediated talks between the parties — overseen by Rodriguez Zapatero as well as former Dominican Republic President Leonel Fernandez and Panama former president Martin Torrijos — discussed their progress at a special session on Tuesday.

Venezuela’s delegation to the OAS requested the session, which comes two days before the body votes on application of the so-called 'Democratic Charter' against the country, which OAS secretary-general Luis Almagro has been pushing.

The former presidents said that they have mediated 20 meetings since May 19 and Rodriguez Zapatero stressed at Tuesday's session that dialogue is necessarily long and gruelling because the two sides are antagonistic — but that he has had to meet more times with opposition.

"Our only duty is to help Venezuela face its challenges, with deep respect for the country's sovereignty," he said.

Representatives shared Rodriguez Zapatero's commitment to not impinging on sovereignty: the delegate from Antigua and Barbuda said that, "We believe that the parties must find a solution, and we must support them."

Political tensions have seen a surge in far-reaching right-wing violence in Venezuela, which OAS members said they must focus on ending. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro has supported the talks with opposition, but representatives of the right-wing coalition failed to show for the scheduled meeting.

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Brazil said that it stands fully behind the UNASUR talks, which are not incompatible with the goals of the OAS, while Nicaragua said that it would back the legitimate government of Venezuela. Argentina also proposed convening a "group of friends" among the Permanent Council to reinforce the UNASUR efforts.

For its part, the United States offered their support in the dialogue, but also took the opportunity to criticize Venezuela's government, which Washington has long attempted to characterize as undemocratic.

The OAS General Assembly, which convened June 13 to 14, voted to hold the special session to inform members about progress in mediation before voting on Venezuela's suspension.

The Permanent Council of the OAS unanimously adopted a resolution on June 1 opposing suspension and encouraging dialogue, and the body repudiated the opposition for not attending the talks to address the economic situation and political deadlock in Venezuela.

Facing a review of his actions as secretary-general, Almagro changed his tune on Venezuela on Monday, saying that he does not want to see the country suspended from the regional bloc.

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