CARACAS, Venezuela —
Venezuela's opposition reacted warily to a call for conciliation from
President Hugo Chavez, saying the socialist leader has spent years in
office disparaging them as "bandits" and repeatedly stating that
reconciliation was impossible.
Chavez made the call for mutual
respect Saturday during a marathon address to the new National Assembly,
which includes a strong opposition presence for the first time in
years. He also said he was willing to sharply reduce the period of time
he has to enact laws by decree, a power that critics say undermines
"We have a president who spends 365 days a
year lashing out at the media, the church, NGOs, fighting with everyone
and then he tells us one day that he wants dialogue," said Julio Borges,
an opposition lawmaker who sat through the president's 7-hour
"Dialogue is necessary for the country, we been asking for it for twelve years," Borges told a news conference.