Venezuelan Government and opposition hold a secret meeting with foreign mediators to find a way to solve the country's political crisis.

Opposition supporters clash with riot police during a rally to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 18, 2016.
Opposition supporters clash with riot police during a rally to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 18, 2016.

The Venezuelan Government and opposition leaders held a secret meeting with a group of mediators in the Dominican Republic on Saturday to find a way out of the political and economic troubles the country is suffering.

Both sides confirmed that former Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and former presidents Martin Torrijos of Panama and Leonel Fernandez of the Dominican Republic participated in the talks. Jesus Torrealba, the head of the Democratic Unity Roundtable, the opposition alliance in Venezuela, said that there had been no face-to-face meeting but messages were exchanged between the parties.

Anti-government demonstrators try to break through a barrier of Bolivarian National Police in an effort to reach the headquarters of the national electoral body, CNE, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
Anti-government demonstrators try to break through a barrier of Bolivarian National Police in an effort to reach the headquarters of the national electoral body, CNE, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

"There is no 'opposition-government' meeting in the Dominican Republic. Representatives of the coalition are attending a meeting with [the ex-presidents]," Torrealba tweeted. He also revealed some topics that had been discussed in the dialogues – including the recalling of President Nicolas Maduro, freedom for prisoners, the return of exiles and a solution to the humanitarian crisis.

On the other hand, former presidential candidate and Miranda State Governor Henrique Capriles – who is leading the push to recall President Maduro – said this week that the talks would only allow the government to buy time and the only way to resolve the crisis was through a recall vote.

Venezuelan opposition leader and Governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles gestures as he speaks during a rally to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 25, 2016.
Venezuelan opposition leader and Governor of Miranda state Henrique Capriles gestures as he speaks during a rally to demand a referendum to remove President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Venezuela, May 25, 2016.

Venezuelans have protested against the government in large numbers and have frequently met with violence in return.

An anti-government protester is detained by Bolivarian National Police, who blocked protesters from reaching the headquarters of the national electoral body, CNE, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
An anti-government protester is detained by Bolivarian National Police, who blocked protesters from reaching the headquarters of the national electoral body, CNE, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

The country is experiencing a severe economic crisis marked by hyperinflation and a shortage of basic items such as food, electricity and medicine. The government has ordered public workers to work only two days a week and cancelled school on Fridays in the last two months as an energy-saving measure.

A demonstrator is blocked by Bolivarian National police during an anti-government march to the headquarters of the national electoral body, CNE, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.
A demonstrator is blocked by Bolivarian National police during an anti-government march to the headquarters of the national electoral body, CNE, in Caracas, Venezuela, Wednesday, May 18, 2016.

A drought has reduced water to near-critical levels at Venezuela's main dam, which provides about two-thirds of the nation's energy needs.

Foreign companies have started to curtail their operations in response to the situation in Venezuela. Coca-Cola has announced that it has stopped production in Venezuela due to the scarcity of sugar in the country. Lufthansa has also announced that it has suspended its flights to Venezuela due to inconsistent currency rates making it impossible for it to convert its earnings into dollars.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies