If upcoming Vatican-backed talks between Venezuela’s bitterly antagonistic government and opposition fail, the result could well be “bloodshed,” a papal envoy warned Saturday. “If one delegation or the other ends the dialogue, it’s not the pope but the Venezuelan people who will lose, because the path then could truly be one of blood,” Archbishop Claudio Maria Celli told the Argentine daily La Nacion in Rome, after visiting Caracas.

Both sides are due to start talks next Friday aimed at finding some way to resolve Venezuela’s deepening political and economic crisis. The stakes are high for their oil-dependent nation, which is suffering a scarcity of food and basic goods, and which its unpopular President Nicolas Maduro has increasingly put under the control of his loyal military. FULL REPORT