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Call for immediate return to democracy in Venezuela

Opposition members shout slogans against Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro as they waits for the results of a of a symbolic referendum in Caracas, Venezuela, Sunday, July 16, 2017. Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans lined up across the country and in expatriate communities around the world Sunday to vote in a symbolic rejection of President Maduro’s plan to rewrite the constitution, a proposal that’s raising tensions in a nation battered by shortages and anti-government protests.
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As Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Heads of Government have “offered their good offices to facilitate” dialogue between the government and opposition in Venezuela, the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, and Venezuela’s opposition leader, Leopoldo López, have urged immediate return to democracy in the country.

The Washington, D.C.-based OAS said that Almagro “held a telephone conversation” with López on Wednesday.

“During the conversation, the two agreed on the need to continue working for the return of democracy to Venezuela and the recovery of the rights of the Venezuelan people,” the OAS said.

“They also emphasized the urgent need for the regime to cease repression, to publish a comprehensive electoral calendar, open a humanitarian channel to meet the needs of the people of the country, completely restore the powers of the National Assembly and release all political prisoners, including a complete release for López himself,” it added.

“They expressed their recognition of the Venezuelan people, who achieved the release of López, following more than 100 days of pro-democracy protests,” the statement continued. “In the same way, they highlighted the importance of the plebiscite called for Sunday, July 16.”

On the contrary, the OAS said the two leaders agreed that the holding of the National Constituent Assembly “would entail the final dismantling of democracy, and called on the people to join forces for Venezuela to return to the path of democracy and institutio­nality.”

In a statement contained in communique at the conclusion of the 38th Meeting of the Conference of Heads of Government of CARICOM, held from July 4-6 in Grenada, CARICOM leaders said they had “discussed the serious challenges facing Venezuela and its people.

“They reaffirmed their guiding principles of adherence to the rule of law, respect for human rights and democracy, as well as for the fundamental principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of states,” the statement said.

“Concerned with the difficult political, economic and social situation in Venezuela, in particular the increase in violence and polarization between the government and the opposition, and its effect on the people of Venezuela, and recognizing the urgent need to find a solution to the present situation, and that this had to be sought internally, CARICOM Heads of Government called for all parties to commit to engage in renewed dialogue and negotiation leading to a comprehensive political agreement with established time tables, concrete actions and guarantees to ensure its implementation for the well-being of the nation,” it added.

“In this regard, CARICOM Heads of Government offered their good offices to facilitate this dialogue,” the statement continued, mandating the Chairman of Conference, Grenada’s Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell, to “communicate with the parties concerned in Venezuela about this offer.”

Updated 3:05 am, July 10, 2018
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