Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

FOCUS

Overfishing and the global appetite for bluefin tuna: can Tokyo help turn the tide?

Read more

EUROPE NOW

Best of Europe Now (Part 1)

Read more

ENCORE!

Clapton pays hommage to 'Cocaine' songwriter J.J. Cale

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Dalia Grybauskaite, President of the Republic of Lithuania

Read more

TALKING EUROPE

Alexander Stubb, Prime Minister of Finland

Read more

WEB NEWS

Web users pay tribute to MH17 victims

Read more

THE INTERVIEW

Lieutenant General David Morrison, Australia's Army Chief

Read more

THE OBSERVERS

Muslims and Christians clean up Bangui, and violence spirals out of control in Algeria's Gardaia

Read more

REPORTERS

Hong Kong in rebellion against the 'motherland'

Read more

  • Over 100,000 displaced in Gaza as death toll escalates

    Read more

  • Ukraine rebels release bodies and black boxes from flight MH17

    Read more

  • An ‘explosion of violence’: French press reacts to Gaza protests

    Read more

  • Notorious ‘VIP’ prison in Paris closed for renovations

    Read more

  • Ukraine football players refuse to return home after friendly in France

    Read more

  • China steps up communist education to guard against ‘moral decline’

    Read more

  • Christians in Iraq's Mosul face execution or exodus

    Read more

  • Scores killed as Libyan militias fight over airport

    Read more

  • France slams ‘anti-Semitic’ violence at pro-Palestinian rally

    Read more

  • French rugby stars attacked with machetes and swords

    Read more

  • Hollande announces new military operation in West Africa

    Read more

  • Prince George picture released to mark first birthday

    Read more

  • Kristoff wins Tour’s flat Stage 15

    Read more

  • Basque group ETA declares new disarming step

    Read more

Americas

Venezuela's Maduro seeks 'peace conference' to end deadly protests

© Photo: AFP

Video by Kyle G. BROWN

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-02-26

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sought to hold a "peace conference" on Wednesday in an attempt to end three weeks of at times deadly anti-government protests in the oil-rich but deeply divided country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro sought to hold a "peace conference" on Wednesday in an attempt to end three weeks of at times deadly anti-government protests in the oil-rich but deeply divided country.

But the main opposition leader Henrique Capriles is not attending, saying he is tired of what he calls government lies and police repression against student protesters.

Capriles, a state governor, was narrowly defeated by Maduro in elections 11 months ago to succeed the late Hugo Chavez.

Maduro's gathering aims to bring together political, social and religious figures but he has given no details over who has committed to taking part.

The protests have left at least 14 people dead and raised alarm in South America, the US and Europe.

Differences with Washington

The country with the world's largest proven oil reserves has been rocked since February 4 by protests over rampant crime, runaway inflation, corruption and other woes.

And on Tuesday, the United States announced the tit-for-tat expulsions of three Venezuelan diplomats.

The US action, which answered Venezuela's expulsions of three American diplomats a week ago, came a day after Maduro said his government would name a new ambassador to Washington.

The State Department said the Venezuelans would have 48 hours to leave and that Caracas needed to "show seriousness" in order for the relationship between the two countries to move forward.

The atmosphere in Caracas was calmer on Tuesday after a night of sporadic clashes, although in some middle class neighborhoods streets were still partially blocked by barriers of rubble and garbage.

Small groups of student protesters also marched towards the Cuban embassy, another target of opposition ire.

"Venezuelans who don't protest, don't get out of this. Join us," read one of their banners.

But by midday just dozens of people had joined the rally, suggesting an easing up of pressure on the eve of the national dialogue convened by Maduro.

Maduro invited "all social, political, union and religious groups" to take part in the "national peace conference," although he provided few details.

The Venezuelan leader, Chavez's handpicked successor, also said he would ask the National Assembly to form a Truth Commission to look into the protests, which he claims are an attempt to "justify foreign intervention in Venezuela."

Maduro, who sees the protests as a coup d'etat in the making, last week kicked out three US diplomats who he said had met with student protest leaders.

But he said he would name a new ambassador because "Americans think we are killing each other" and he wants to improve dialogue with the US.

The two countries have not exchanged ambassadors since 2010, reflecting the bad blood that has prevailed between the two trade partners since Chavez came to power in 1999.

State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington had seen reports about Maduro's intention.

"But Venezuela also needs to show seriousness for us to be able to move forward. And recent actions, including expelling three of our diplomats, continue to make that difficult."

According to FRANCE 24 correspondent Girish Gupta, much of Venezuela’s posturing is a play to Maduro’s anti-US supporters.

“Arguing with the US does play well to his domestic audience,” said Gupta, adding that anti-US antagonism from Caracas had “little to do with the bigger picture”.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2014-02-26

  • VENEZUELA

    Venezuela’s Maduro calls for direct talks with Obama

    Read more

  • VENEZUELA

    Kerry slams 'unacceptable' use of force in Venezuela

    Read more

  • VENEZUELA

    Venezuelan opposition spurns talks as protests flare

    Read more

COMMENT(S)