Catholic World News

Venezuelan prelate: ‘every day we feel a greater oppression’

August 10, 2017

The vice president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference denounced the violence and “voracious corruption” of the regime of President Nicolás Maduro and called for an eventual “total change of government through general elections.”

“Thousands of detainees, in little more than three months, give us a hellish picture that would make any person or institution worried about the lives of citizens at stake,” Bishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala of Barinas said in an interview with EWTN News.

On August 8, a UN human rights team painted a similar picture and denounced “widespread and systematic use of excessive force and arbitrary detentions against demonstrators in Venezuela.”

Bishop Azuaje said that “every day we feel a greater repression of the government through different state agencies or feel the same because of fear of certain groups. It is forming anarchy in the national consciousness; that is to say, the government has lost its legitimacy and authority.”

The prelate said that some Venezuelans were forced to participate in the recent vote for a constituent assembly to rewrite the nation’s constitution:

Many people were coerced and threatened … There are stories of people who are Catholic, are part of our parishes and almost confess as if it was an unforgivable sin. They feel humiliated because their freedom was restricted, because they were threatened that they would lose their jobs or benefits received in government social programs.

The constituent assembly, packed with Maduro allies, has assumed all lawmaking power in Venezuela, in an attempt to end any role for the nation’s legislature, in which the opposition has a large majority.

Bishop Azuaje also characterized the fall 2016 Vatican-brokered dialogue between Maduro and the opposition as “a feigned dialogue on the part of the government without any result.”

“Whenever this government has been at a disadvantage, it has asked to dialogue; but it is always the same script: dialogue is used to gain time and advance in the hegemonic project of totalitarianism and greater power of domination,” said the prelate.

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  • Posted by: Randal Mandock - Aug. 11, 2017 3:25 PM ET USA

    Venezuela today is an example of what can happen if a government gets total control of the food supply, the medicine supply, and the means for self defense. The most free societies are those whose citizens instill the fear of God in their governments.