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Lawmakers In Venezuela Suspend Political Trial Of President Maduro

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

In Venezuela today, opposition lawmakers backed away from holding what they called a political trial of the president, and the government freed at least three jailed opposition activists. The two sides have begun talks to see if they can defuse the nation's crisis. Reporter John Otis has more from Venezuela's capital, Caracas.

JOHN OTIS, BYLINE: Lawmakers had been preparing to accuse President Nicolas Maduro of abandoning his post. They point to his inability to pull Venezuela out of an economic meltdown that's produced food shortages and triple-digit inflation. They also accuse him of violating the constitution after electoral authorities loyal to Maduro suspended a recall election last month that could have removed him from office. The trial would have been largely symbolic. Still, the Maduro administration took action.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

OTIS: Government trucks parked just outside Congress blasted music lauding the socialist revolution launched by the late Hugo Chavez 17 years ago. The government also staged a rally to support the president.

But the two sides have been holding talks to seek a peaceful way out of the crisis. That led to the liberation of the political prisoners and the suspension of the trial. Still, critics fear Maduro is using the talks to stall for time, and the opposition says it will keep protesting until the recall election goes forward and all political prisoners are released. For NPR News, I'm John Otis in Caracas, Venezuela. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.