Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s failure to work with the opposition is putting the country’s future in jeopardy, according to a former Venezuela lawmaker.
“We are standing in a very difficult situation,” Martinez said. “The demands of the students and the opposition … are simple, but the government [is] simply rejecting them.”
Martinez says protesters are asking for international mediators to lead negotiations to re-establish democracy in Venezuela and, “get the [country] back on track.”
Martinez points out protestors aren’t necessarily asking for Maduro to be removed from office, unlike protests in Ukraine that led to the ouster of President Viktor Yanukovych.
“This is about taking a different path in Venezuela and this can only be achieved through dialogue,” Martinez said. “If dialogue [works] … it is possible to foresee the opposition and the government somehow respecting each other.”
Martinez, currently the director of Center for Democracy and Development in the Americas, slammed Venezuela’s president for largely ignoring the protesters: “Maduro has taken the path of neglecting the existence of an opposition, whom happen to be now 50 percent of Venezuelans.”
Even though the country is the Western Hemisphere's largest oil producer, their economy has taken a hit in recent years, with some critics blaming the government’s socialist policies.
“Inflation in Venezuela is the highest in the Americas … the scarcity of common goods is [common] … we don’t have what we need to make ends meat in Venezuela,” Martinez said. “You need fundamental changes to see the country in a different direction.”
Watch the full interview above.