Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, seen here speaking with Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, said leaders have to show that these are not "biblical times" and signal that they understand that dialogue is the only way to solve the country's problems. Photo courtesy of Prensa Presidencial
CARACAS, Venezuela, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- Vatican representative Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli, sent by Pope Francis to mediate talks between the Venezuelan government and opposition, has warned the road ahead "could be of blood" if the negotiations fail.
Celli said that his first fear when negotiations began in late October was that there would be bloodshed in an opposition protest scheduled a few days later. The opposition's protest was suspended, partly to defuse tensions amid talks.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and Democratic Unity Roundtable, or MUD, opposition leaders have met several times in Caracas for crisis-related talks mediated by the Vatican and former political leaders from the Dominican Republic, Panama and Spain.
"If the national dialogue fails between Venezuelan government and the opposition, it is not the Pope but the people of Venezuela who will lose, because the road could be of blood," Celli told La Nacion.
Celli said he told Maduro those involved in the talks must show that these are not "biblical times ... You have to give signs that dialogue is the only way."
"There is no doubt that the situation is very ugly. Not only politically, but socially, economically. No food, no medicines," Celli said, adding that the Venezuelan military is "everywhere" in Caracas.
The opposition seeks to oust Maduro from power through a recall referendum triggered through a constitutional process, which was made more difficult and ultimately suspended by Venezuelan institutions accused of making decisions favorable to Maduro's socialist regime.