February 26, 2014
Jimmy Carter Trying To Mediate Civil Conflict In Venezuela: Is There A Solution?

Jimmy Carter has decided he wants to get involved in yet another area of tension in the world, This time the former president has chosen to focus on Venezuela - after Hugo Chavez.

He is said to be worried about the escalating political crisis, and wants to meet with leaders on both sides during his visit.

Carter, at 89 years-of-age, is certainly a veteran mediator - including previous conflicts in this South American nation.

So, this week, Carter sent personal letters to both President Nicolas Maduro, and to the leader of the opposition, Henrique Capriles.

Carter told them that he was gravely concerned about the fact that lives had been lost in the recent civil unrest, and he was afraid about what would happen if the conflict were to continue.

In his letter to Capriles he said that for dialogue aimed at easing tensions to succeed both side must "send signals of their willingness to alleviate the present state of tension."

Using all the authority of a Nobel peace laureate, Carter wrote that the opposition group must make a commitment to act within constitutional limits and strongly reject violence.

For its part, the government must guarantee the right to peaceful protest and impartial justice for jailed protesters.

Carter added, "It is difficult for elected officials from opposition parties to resolve differences when they feel threatened and persecuted."

It is strange that the government - usually so anti-American in its outlook - would be willing to accept Jimmy Carter as a peacemaker. Or, perhaps, not so strange, since The Carter Center was heavily criticized by the opposition for validating a 2004 recall referendum that allowed Hugo Chavez to resume power.

Ostensibly, the main purpose of Carter's trip to Venezuela on April 29 is to promote a health program with Venezuela and Brazil for the elimination of river blindness.

But that's almost two months away, and given the escalating death toll in the streets - 16 protesters killed in the past fortnight - that just might be too late.

image: www.tokeofthetown.com