VENEZUELA’s President Nicolas Maduro has urged the United States to discuss ‘peace and sovereignty’ in a high level commission mediated by the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
Maduro also called on President Obama not to heed US factions that he says want to kill the Venezuelan leader.
Venezuela blames the US for the anti-government protests that have left 28 people dead in the past month. Thousands of government supporters marched through the Venezuelan capital, Caracas, on Saturday, to thank the country’s security forces for their policing of the recent unrest.
Maduro and several military leaders made speeches praising the ‘civic-military’ partnership. The president also proposed the creation of a ‘high-level commission’ to discuss ‘peace and respect to the sovereignty’ in Venezuela.
Maduro said he wanted the head of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, to negotiate with a ‘high-level officer’ of the US administration under the auspices of Unasur.
In a speech broadcast on radio and TV, the Venezuelan president told the crowd: ‘President Obama – give peace, and respect, a chance and let’s set the foundation for a new type of relations between the US, Venezuela and if possible, Latin America and the Caribbean.’
Maduro also warned Obama against agreeing to alleged plans to kill him, put forward by ‘extremists’ in the US administration. In his address to the nation, he warned Obama: ‘It would be the worst mistake in your life to authorise the assassination of President Nicolas Maduro and fill Venezuela with violence.’
Maduro added that he was a ‘humble president and bus driver’ who like Obama also had ‘African grandparents’.
The right wing opposition called for further protests on Sunday against what it called ‘Cuban repression’ in the country and criticised the government’s march.
‘We know soldiers and officials are against this act ordered by Cuba,’ Maria Corina Machado, an opposition leader, wrote on Twitter.
On Saturday, there were renewed clashes in the bourgois Caracas neighbourhood of Altamira, where right wing protesters have been occupying a square for days.
Earlier, Maduro had vowed to disperse the crowd even if that took the use of force. On Friday, Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Elias Jaua accused US Secretary of State John Kerry of inciting violence and called him a ‘murderer’.
This was in response to comments by Kerry, who accused Venezuela of waging a ‘terror campaign against its own people’ in its response to protests.
Meanwhile, the US Congress is considering sanctions on the oil-rich nation. The opposition says it will continue to protest against Venezuela’s high inflation, food shortages and violence levels until there is a change of government.
Elsewhere on Saturday members of social and people’s movements in this municipality of the Santo Domingo province in the Dominican Republic expressed support to the Venezuelan Revolution and President Nicolas Maduro.
‘We back the government of the saister nation that has done so many things for our country,’ said community political leader Jose Galvez in a rally. He added that Maduro, a man loyal to the legacy of late President Hugo Chavez, was elected by the majority of a free, sovereign people.
‘Let’s make the commitment to bring Venezuela’s reality to all corners to counteract the media lies,’ Galvez urged dozens of people present in the event.
Galvez is one of the members of the recently formed Committee of Solidarity with Venezuela in the territory. Leader of the group, Mario Cabral, said that today, more than ever, ‘we must be in solidarity with Venezuela, that country which helped us in so many things.’
Cabral also highlighted Chavez’ example for Latin America and the Caribbean and his relation with the Dominican Republic.
Meanwhile, Venezuelan Ambassador Alberto Castellar appreciated the expressions of solidarity and noted that the extreme right wing in his country and the United States are trying to topple Maduro, but they will not succeed against the unity of the revolutionary people.
President Maduro said last Friday that the right-wing has tried since last February to carry out a coup d’etat against Venezuela’s democracy and the Bolivarian Revolution.
‘During the last four weeks it has been implemented a special format of coup d’etat against Venezuelan democracy and against the Bolivarian Revolution and what it represents,’ Maduro said in a meeting with international and national media journalists at the Miraflores presidential palace, seat of the executive in Caracas.
‘It’s a coup against the Bolivarian revolution and what it means,’ he added.
State media said: ‘The fascist violence unleashed in some parts of the country since early February, with the intention of seeking unconstitutional ways to overthrow President Nicolas Maduro has caused 28 deaths.’
Last Thursday it emerged that three paramilitary groups had been captured in the Venezuelan state of Carabobo, following a series of deadly shootings during protests on Wednesday.
President Maduro announced on Thursday that the paramilitaries had been allegedly operating in Carabobo’s state capital, Valencia. At least six people found with C-4 explosives and military grade firearms are being held.
Maduro said: ‘There are snipers who killed young students, motorizados (motorcyclists), two sergeants of the National Guard (GNB) and the captain that today we have come to honour.’
The comments were made during Maduro’s visit to Valencia to attend a service for deceased GNB captain, Ramso Bracho.
‘He was proud of being a National Guard. . . he was a revolutionary captain and was aware of the risks he was taking defending the right to peace of the Venezuelan people,’ Maduro stated.
Bracho was shot dead during street clashes with opposition groups on Wednesday. Two other deaths from shootings were reported in the city on the same day; one was a student, Jesus Acosta.
The other, Guillermo Sanchez was reportedly hit by a stray bullet while painting his home.
There exist conflicting claims that either rooftop snipers or pro-government gunmen were responsible for the deaths. Miranda state governor Henrique Capriles took to Twitter to hit out at Maduro over Acosta’s death.
The former opposition presidential candidate tweeted: ‘How many more deaths and injuries, Nicholas? You in the government are largely responsible for the country’s peace.’
Another death was reported in Merida on Thursday. According to community television station TatuyTV, 62 year old Jose Vallardez died of respiratory arrest after being impeded by a barricade.
Meanwhile, interior minister Miguel Rodriguez showed state media weapons that were seized from anti-government groups, collected over a month of nationwide protests and anti-government violence.
Rodriguez said: ‘This is a display of the tools used by the “peaceful” protesters of the Venezuelan opposition.’
According to the state-owned news agency AVN, firearms, knives, improvised explosives and the C-4 were on display. ‘Venezuela has been subjected to a form of violence that has been practised in other parts of the world with the sole purpose of overthrowing governments,’ the interior minister stated.
Maduro also announced that the national government has created a plan to remove violent groups from areas hit by barricades. The president noted that middle and upper class neighbourhoods have been worst hit by violent anti-government demonstrations, stating that ‘groups of the right and armed groups have plagued the communities’.
The president didn’t go into details of how the groups will be removed. He declared: ‘We will liberate from the barricaders and criminals all residential areas of the middle and upper classes – which have been the principle victims of this coup attempt.’