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Venezuelan bishops back anti-government protests, civil disobedience

April 10, 2017

As angry public demonstrations spread in Venezuela, following the virtual abolition of the nation’s parliament, the country’s Catholic bishops warned against a slide “toward dictatorship,” and backed peaceful protests.

“A nation without a parliament is like a body without a soul,” the bishops said in a public statement from the episcopal conference, adding that the decision by the supreme court was “morally unacceptable.”

The supreme court—which is controlled by supporters of President Nicolas Maduro—announced that it would take over lawmaking responsibilities, shutting down the parliament, which is controlled by the political opposition.

“It’s time to ask ourselves seriously and responsibly if civil disobedience, peaceful demonstrations, and fair complaints directed at national and international bodies are the valid and opportune path forward,” the bishops said.

Speaking on Palm Sunday in the nation’s capital, Caracas, Cardinl Jorge Urosa Savino said that “we must defend our rights and the rights of others, without resorting to violence, instead following the constitution and the laws of our country.”

President Maduro has declared a public holiday for the entirety of Holy Week. The move is not likely to have a major impact on the Venezuelan economy, which has already been crippled by shortages of food and medicine, power outages, and strikes.

 
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