CARACAS, April 10 (Xinhua) -- Some 85 percent of Venezuelans condemned violent protests that have roiled the country since mid- February, and 87 percent believed those responsible should be punished, according to a poll released Thursday.
Oscar Schemel, president of independent polling firm Hinterlaces, revealed the results of the recent poll at a press conference, hours before the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro and its rightwing political opponents were to meet in talks aimed at ending the violent clashes.
The survey, carried out between April 1-7, showed 67 percent of respondents disagreed with the original refusal of the opposition to join a national dialogue sponsored by Maduro to diffuse the political tension built up over weeks of anti-government protests.
The survey also showed that seven out of 10 Venezuelans were more concerned with economic issues. Meanwhile, 51 percent of respondents held a positive view of the current administration, while 48 percent showed disapproval.
To ensure the continuation of socialist reform in Venezuela, " it is essential (for the government) to widen its social base of support among the emerging middle class and professionals," Schemel said.
A total of 39 people died in clashes between security forces and groups of protesters in the past two months.
Maduro has accused the nation's hard-line conservatives, supported by Washington, of plotting to overthrow the government.