Mon | Feb 18, 2019

Vatican receives delegation from Venezuela’s Guaidó

Published:Tuesday | February 12, 2019 | 12:07 AM
Pope Francis delivers his speech prior to reciting the Angelus noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St Peter’s Square at the Vatican on Sunday.

VATICAN CITY (AP):

A delegation representing Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaidó met on Monday with Vatican officials as the Holy See weighs a request from socialist President Nicolás Maduro to intervene in the country’s political crisis.

Officials from the Secretariat of State expressed Pope Francis’ proximity to all Venezuelans who are suffering, the Vatican said. Spokesman Alessandro Gisotti said, “the grave concern was underlined that a just and peaceful solution be urgently sought to overcome the crisis, respecting human rights and seeking the good of all of the inhabitants of the country and avoiding bloodshed.”

The Vatican didn’t say who participated, but the delegation was photographed with Monsignor Edgar Peña Parra, the Venezuelan-born substitute, or deputy secretary of state. His boss is Cardinal Pietro Parolin, a Venezuela expert stemming from his years as the Vatican’s ambassador to Caracas.

Maduro has asked the Vatican to help launch talks. Francis has said that both sides must request external mediation and expressed a willingness to sound out Guaidó’s camp.

The Venezuelan delegation later met with the Italian interior and foreign ministers. Italy’s populist government, which splits power between the right-wing League and the anti-establishment 5-Star Movement, has not joined other countries in lining up to back Guaidó.

The Italian Foreign Ministry identified the delegation members as Francisco Sucre, president of the foreign affairs commission of the anti-Maduro National Assembly; former Caracas Mayor Antonio Ledezm; and Rodrigo Diamanti, an activist who the ministry identified as Guaidó’s representative.

The wife of Ledezma, Mitzy De Ledezma, told reporters that the message from the delegation to the Italians was clear: “That they will support our current president, who is Juan Guiadó, a democratic president that, God willing, will bring the next Venezuela toward a democratic transition under the flag of democracy, which is what we mainly need in our country.”