Venezuela's foreign affairs minister, Elias Jaua, has sent a letter to the Vatican, inviting its participation in the National Peace Conference that has been convened by President Nicolas Maduro. The move came after a meeting between Venezuela government officials and the opposition, during which both sides agreed that the Holy See could join in the peace process. In the letter, made public April 9, Jaua sent an invitation on behalf of President Maduro to Pope Francis, inviting him to take part in the talks between government and opposition leaders, through the designation of “good will witness.” On Tuesday, representatives from both the Venezuelan government and the opposition had an exploratory meeting to begin talks aiming at putting an end to violent protests that have left at least 39 dead and hundreds injured or detained. The ongoing unrest took another turn Sunday when a leading journalist at the Globovision television network, Nairobi Pinto, was kidnapped outside his home. Pinto’s friends say political motives are behind his disappearance. Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino called on the government of President Maduro to heed “the voices of so many who point out that we are going down the wrong road.” Speaking at the Tiferet Israel synagogue in Caracas April 7, Cardinal Savino said, “Venezuela has problems today, and she needs the effort of all citizens in order to resolve them.”
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