CARACAS, March 3 (Xinhua) -- National dialogue between Venezuela's ruling socialist party and the right-wing opposition has served to prevent outbreaks of deadly violence, according to a leading Latin American statesman.
Local media on Friday cited former Colombian president Ernesto Samper as saying that thanks to the talks, the country has not seen the waves of violent anti-government demonstrations that killed scores of people in the recent past.
"Since (the talks) began as a way to resolve political differences, we have at least not seen a return to the episodes of violence and street clashes that occurred a year or two years ago," Samper told the daily Panorama in a phone interview.
"There we have clear proof that dialogue did have concrete results, because the people, despite all the difficulties, found a way out through dialogue. They didn't have to resort to armed confrontation," said Samper, who is also the current secretary general of the Union of South American Nations (Unasur).
National dialogue between the ruling PSUV and the Democratic Unity Roundtable (MUD), a coalition of conservative parties, began in 2016, with the backing of several prominent figures, including Pope Francis and Samper, then Unasur head, and former presidents from Spain, Panama and the Dominican Republic.
The MUD, which wants the ouster of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, entered into the negotiations reluctantly, after the Vatican endorsed Maduro's call for dialogue.
Talks are currently on hold, with the MUD demanding the government to release jailed right-wing activist Leopoldo Lopez as a precondition to continue.
Lopez is serving a 13-year sentence for fomenting the violence that left more than 40 dead and hundreds injured during anti-government protests.