By James Blears
Venezuela`s Government and Opposition have agree to resume stalled talks. The talks come amid a profound economic and humanitarian crisis in the country, where hardship has made life untenable for many Venezuelans with basic needs, such as food and medicine, hard to come by.
Thus, since 2015, almost four million people have left Venezuela, most of them escaping to neighbouring countries which have seen a surge in asylum seekers.
The Catholic Church
The Catholic Church in Venezuela is on the forefront in trying to assist the impoverished population, but a Venezuelan Cardinal is accusing the government of intimidation and has reiterated his appeal to President Nicolas Maduro to engage in dialogue.
In an interview with the Pontifical Foundation ‘Aid to the Church in Need’, Archbishop Baltasar Porras of Merida, apostolic administrator of Caracas and President of Caritas Venezuela, shone the light on the limitations and intimidation perpetrated by the government against Church officials and organizations.
He decried the fact that those who are bringing aid to the impoverished population and even parishes are continuously under pressure to stop their work.
Meanwhile the Caribbean nation, Barbados, is set to host the resumption of stalled talks between Venezuela`s Government and Opposition.
Norway which hosted the preliminary talks and is mediating the protracted process says the aim of the upcoming next round of discussions in Barbados, is to move further forward towards a constitutional settlement.
The Opposition led by Juan Guaido wants a transitional government to replace the Administration of President Nicolas Maduro, and then free elections monitored by international observers.
Guaido insists he`s the legitimate Interim President, recognized by more than fifty nations all around the world. While Maduro states he`s the democratically elected President.
The Opposition disputes the fairness of last year`s Presidential Election.
Venezuela`s Armed Forces remain staunchly loyal to Maduro which is his bedrock anchor on residual political power.
Meanwhile the Venezuelan economy spirals ever downwards from crisis to disaster and with it acute shortages accompanied by hyper-inflation.
Maduro blames US sanctions, while Guaido says it`s the result of corruption and years of chronic mismanagement.