A few weeks ago we warned that Venezuela was on the verge of revolution after Maduro took steps to block a recall referendum that many thought would have resulted in his ouster. In response, Maduro's political opposition urged Venezuelans to take to the streets to protest the move which they say was tantamount to a coup. Here's what we wrote before:
Once a "flagship socialist nation," Venezuela has suffered over the past couple of years from a dramatic economic crisis that has resulted in severe shortages of food, clean water, electricity, medicines and hospital supplies all of which have resulted in a desperate population which has resorted to the black market and violence for survival. That said, Venezuela likely inched one step closer to revolution on Friday when Maduro's leftist government took steps to block a recall referendum that could have resulted in his ouster. According to the US News and World Report, Venezuelan opposition leaders are calling the efforts of Maduro "a coup" in light of the broad based public support of the recall effort.
Venezuela is bracing for turbulence after the socialist government blocked a presidential recall referendum in a move opposition leaders are calling a coup.
The opposition is urging supporters to take to the streets, beginning with a march on a major highway Saturday led by the wives of jailed activists, while a leading government figure is calling for the arrest of high-profile government critics.
Polls suggest socialist President Nicolas Maduro would lose a recall vote. But that became a moot issue on Thursday when elections officials issued an order suspending a recall signature drive a week before it was to start.
"What we saw yesterday was a coup," said former presidential candidate Henrique Capriles, who had been the leading champion of the recall effort. "We'll remain peaceful, but we will not be taken for fools. We must defend our country."
International condemnation was swift. Twelve western hemisphere nations, including the U.S. and even leftist-run governments such as Chile and Uruguay, said in a statement Friday that the suspension of the referendum and travel restrictions on the opposition leadership affects the prospect for dialogue and finding a peaceful solution to the nation's crisis.
Apparently we weren't that far off with our "revolution" prediction as the Vatican and the Union of South American Nations were recently called in to negotiate a truce between the Venezuelan government and the opposition leaders as the situation has continued to spiral out of control. In order to calm tensions, Maduro agreed to release a few political opposition members from prison and the opposition called off a symbolic "trial" in congress against Maduro and a street protest. That said, as Yahoo News points out, if continued talks brokered by the Vatican fail the result could well be "bloodshed."
If upcoming Vatican-backed talks between Venezuela's bitterly antagonistic government and opposition fail, the result could well be "bloodshed," a papal envoy warned Saturday.
"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," Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli told the Argentine daily La Nacion in Rome, after visiting Caracas.
-'Very ugly' situation -
There are fears a breakdown in the talks could see a return of street confrontations between anti-Maduro protesters and security forces, and possibly an escalation into outright violence.
"There are people who aren't afraid to see bloodshed. This is what worries me," Celli told the newspaper.
He said Pope Francis was playing a "strong role" in the talks.
"We are running a risk," he admitted. "We will see. May God help us."
That said, there are already signs that talks between Maduro and his opposition are breaking down as opposition leaders have demanded the release of more "political prisoners" while Maduro has shot back: "There can be no ultimatums." Given the extreme economic crisis in Venezuela that has resulted in severe food shortages, hyperinflation and so forth, we're not sure that Venezuelans will be willing to maintain the Vatican's truce much longer without some meaningful concessions from Maduro's leftist government.