Recall referendum suspension in Venezuela leads to Vatican mediation

After meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican on 24 October 2016, Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro agreed to hold a dialogue with the opposition, with mediation from the Vatican and Unasur. According to papal envoy Monsignor Emil Paul Tscheerig, the talks are to take place on Margarita Island, Venezuela, on 30 October, and preliminary discussions between the government and the opposition took place in Caracas on 24 October (Tal Cual). However, key members of Venezuela's opposition stated they were not consulted and will not attend negotiations with the government. Miranda state Governor Henrique Capriles denied a dialogue has begun, and Asamblea Nacional (AN) President and head of the Acción Democrática party Henry Ramos Allup stated his party would not be present at the talks (Tal Cual).

The announcement of a dialogue followed an especially tumultuous few days in Venezuelan politics. The government's electoral authority halted the process to hold a recall referendum against Maduro on 21 October, leading to an emergency session in the AN on 23 October. Opposition legislators passed a resolution that declared a breakdown of constitutional order in the country and accused the government of mounting a coup d'état. The resolution was passed after a group of government supporters burst into the AN, forcing a temporary suspension of the legislative session (Panorama). On 24 October, hundreds of university students across Venezuela held protests against the suspension of the recall referendum, and the opposition called for a nationwide protest on 26 October (Tal Cual). It remains unclear whether the entirety of Venezuela's opposition Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD) coalition will accept the dialogue in light of increasing frustration over the government's moves to quash the recall referendum.