Venezuela Opposition Gives Maduro Until Nov. 11 to Meet Demands

CARACAS/SAN CRISTOBAL, Venezuela (Reuters) -

Venezuela’s opposition exhorted President Nicolas& Maduro& on Thursday to set an election and start releasing jailed activists within days, while students opposed to Vatican-led talks protested in the streets.

The opposition coalition escalated protests and drew hundreds of thousands into the streets when authorities quashed its drive for a referendum against& Maduro& last month.

But it suspended street actions out of respect for talks with the government that began at the weekend mediated by a Papal envoy.

However, with one major party dissenting and many supporters fearful& Maduro& is playing for time, opposition leaders say they will wait until Nov. 11 before possibly quitting talks and returning to street tactics if demands are ignored.

The 53-year-old socialist leader won election to replace his late mentor Hugo Chavez in 2013, but has seen his popularity plummet to just over 20 percent amid an unprecedented economic crisis in the OPEC nation of 30 million people.

There is no indication& Maduro& will agree to any of the coalition’s big demands, and indeed some officials have mocked the deadline.