CARACAS: Venezuela’s foreign minister will meet Tuesday with UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in Geneva to discuss three weeks of deadly protests that have rattled the oil-rich country.
Fresh anti-government demonstrations took place on Saturday (Sunday in Manila), with protesters calling for the release of dozens of activists who have been arrested in the protests that have left 18 people dead.
The demonstrators, joined by opposition lawmaker Maria Machado, formed a convoy of some 500 cars and motorcycles and toured the city against government “torture and repression.”
The move came after fresh violence on Friday saw pitched battles between security forces and demonstrators.
Ban had urged the Venezuelan government and opposition earlier this week to make concrete steps toward meaningful dialogue to reduce the country’s polarization.
The talks between Ban and Foreign Minister Elias Jaua will be held in the framework of a meeting of the UN Commission on Human Rights.
It “will be an excellent opportunity to explain how the government is advancing the peace process and what measures are being taken so that Venezuela recovers from these disturbances, these acts of violence,” Venezuela’s UN Ambassador Jorge Valero told news agency Noticias 24.
Protesters vowed to boycott Venezuela’s annual carnival celebrations as a mark of respect to the dead.
“We honor the dead. No carnival, there is nothing to celebrate,” engineering student Argenis Arteaga told Agence France-Presse at the protest.
At least 41 people, including several foreign journalists, were arrested during Friday’s clashes.
Among those detained on Friday were eight foreigners “held for international terrorism,” state VTV television said in a brief statement.
They included US freelance reporter Andrew Rosati, who writes for the Miami Herald, a team of journalists from the US-based Associated Press and Italian photographer Francesca Commissari, who works for the local daily El Nacional.