Progress in Venezuela talks, but protests continue

University students shout slogans against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro during an anti-government protest in Caracas, Venezuela, Saturday, April 12, 2014. Students opposed to the government of President Nicolas Maduro are protesting after leaders of the opposition agreed this week to sit down with Maduro’s government for talks aimed at defusing the nation’s political crisis, now entering its third month. The two sides agreed that talks aimed at reconciliation would be held in public.
AP Photo/Fernando Llano

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Negotiators for the government and the opposition have agreed to broaden membership in a truth commission that is to investigate who is to blame for 41 deaths tied to weeks of political unrest in Venezuela.

Colombian Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin, who is one of the outside facilitators in the talks, on Wednesday called the step a sign of “progress” in the effort to calm Venezuela’s political unrest.

But opposition leaders criticized the government for not accepting a proposal for amnesty to be granted to people arrested during the protests. Hundreds of university students staged another anti-government demonstration late in the day, marching barefoot in what they said was penance for the country’s economic and crime problems.

The agreement on the truth commission was announced following hours of negotiations that took place Tuesday night behind closed doors in what both sides described as a much-needed if torturous attempt at dialogue in a nation polarized by 15 years of socialist rule.

Heading into the meeting the government had insisted that any investigation of the protests be led by Congress, which it dominates. But it partially met the opposition’s demands for an independent commission by agreeing to include national figures trusted by both sides.

The talk, which began last week, are being sponsored by the Vatican as well as Colombia, Brazil and Ecuador.

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