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Papal mediation in Venezuelan Crisis
The US was long in odds with the Venezuelan President, Hugo Chavez, the socialist leader who was elected in 1998 and who consolidated power by using the oil boom's revenue to expand social programs for the poor while enriching himself and his cronies. He died of cancer in the year 2013, just before the whole Venezuelan economy got devastated due to plunged oil prices. Following him, the next elected president Nicolas Maduro stuck to the same guidelines of governance as set by his predecessor. This led to further depreciation in the economy and various protests and riots became common on Venezuelan streets. When in the following election Nicolas Maduro was reselected, there was a huge resentment in the country calling the elections to be “rigged” and various other states also joined the protests calling for re-elections as they considered this election to be an unfair one. Even the Venezuelan National Assembly ruled the last election to be an invalid one and elected the opposition leader, Juan Guaidó as the acting president of the state. This action of the Assembly was backed by the US President, Donald Trump. In retaliation, Maduro demanded the US to close their embassy in Caracas and further ordered all American diplomats to leave Venezuela. Not only the US but other states such as Germany, Poland, France, Canada, Australia, and seven other European Union countries. In contrast, Russia and China supported Maduro. Even the citizens of the nations started recognizing Guaidó as the legitimate head of the state. Owing to such a crisis in the state, and growing tension in relations with other countries Maduro, wrote a letter to Pope Francis, calling help to mediate the escalating crisis in Venezuela. Pope acknowledged that the bishops in the Venezuelan church were already frustrated with the government’s inadequate response to "the willingness by the church officials to facilitate dialogue aimed at achieving reconciliation in Venezuela”, where there is a daily increment in political and social tension. Through his letter, Maduro lamented about the Venezuelan crisis state is going through because of the current turmoil regarding the legitimacy of the elections held and stakes of the various other nations involved. All the states even the opposition leader agreed for this process of Papal Mediation. Papal mediation is one of the oldest forms of mediation that exists in Vatican City, where the Pope acts as a mediator to help resolve the dispute. Pope Francis referred to the Papal Mediation in the Beagle Conflict that was between Argentina and Chile, where Pope John Paul II, through his peaceful yet courageous involvement stopped a war from happening. Though this mediation process was divided into various phases and extended over a long period of time and was also subjected to many failed negotiations, the outcome was the signing of a Peace Treaty which established harmony in the area. Pope Francis, in the present dispute, declined Maduro’s call for mediation stating that a successful mediation can only take place when both the parties are willing to honor their promises, and here Maduro was unsuccessful to live up to his commitments made in the previous negotiations. Though he showed the willingness of the Vatican to act as a mediator, he claimed this is only possible when both the parties are willing to resolve the dispute, and all the decisions taken by them in the previous negotiations are respected and implemented by either.

  • Papal mediation in Venezuelan Crisis
  • both the parties are willing to honour their promises

BY : Udisha Mishra

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