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Venezuela: the bishops, “postpone elections to the last months of the year”

The Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference takes a stand on the presidential elections due to take place next May 20 despite the fact that the Country is close to collapse and with no guarantees of respecting democratic rules

 

 

Presidential elections scheduled to be held in Venezuela next May “are not the solution” to the serious humanitarian and political crisis afflicting the Country, where the people are starving and afflicted by countless problems. The Venezuelan bishops thus asked to postpone elections “to the last trimester of the year”, if not, the situation in the Country could “aggravate” further risking an “unprecedented humanitarian crisis”. The bishops’ stand was expressed in a statement on the “political and humanitarian crisis” in Venezuela, released today (April 23rd).

Sky-rocketing inflation as poverty rate increases. After the pastoral Exhortation of past January, in which the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference invited the government of Nicolas Maduro to listen to the cries of the people, we realize today that the “disaster situation” afflicting the people has worsened.

“Hyperinflation has increased the poverty rate of the population”, coupled by “the widespread absence of public services such as electricity, water and gas”,

“which makes life more difficult throughout the Country.” “This is taking place – they pointed out – while the government’s leaders, tasked with solving these problems, remain surprisingly indifferent”. The bishops denounced “a steady rise in unemployment and hunger”, with increasing “diseases and disabilities among the most vulnerable brackets, aggravated by severe medicine shortages”. This situation sparked off “protests throughout the Country, amidst silenced media”, along with a dramatic increase in “emigration, involving all social brackets”, having to cope with “increasingly precarious living conditions.” The first deaths have been registered among emigrants crossing the border into Columbia and Brazil, “causing further desperation among the families.”

Elections of May 20, “no guarantees of transparency and freedom.” The bishops expressed their gratitude to neighbouring countries that welcomed and helped Venezuelan people through humanitarian organizations, “ecclesial institutions providing support to migrants, Caritas.” “Before this humanitarian tragedy – they said – the presidential elections scheduled to take place May 20 are delegitimized.” “For the way in which they were planned, lacking the guarantees required by any free and transparent electoral process”, they pointed out, “far from solving the situation in the Country they could aggravate it and drive the Country towards an unprecedented humanitarian catastrophe. It must be urgently postponed to the last trimester of the year.” The bishops addressed a final appeal to “national government leaders” to acknowledge “the responsibility of this disastrous situation, to listen to the cries of the people” and pledge, “with the support and cooperation of private enterprises, including our sister Countries”, to “tame hyperinflation and facilitate the identification of political solutions” to these “disaster situations, before they spiral out of proportion and escalate tragically in terms of destruction and death.” The bishops reminded the Venezuelan people that “the matter at stake today is not holding yet another political assembly” or “the temporary deterioration in the quality of life of a people, but its very existence as a free, fraternal and democratic Country.” “The force of faith and of hope – they concluded – has the power of ushering in courageous and determined acts of solidarity and change the course of this story of death.”

The spokesperson: “They are not solving Venezuela’s problems.” “It makes no sense to worry about elections, and it does not solve the challenges faced by Venezuela today”, Father Pedro Pablo Aguilar, director of the Communications Department of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference,  told SIR. In fact “the situation grows worse every day, the Country is facing far too many problems: families emigrate, children and old people are left alone, there is a shortage of medicines and food.” The bishops appealed to the government “to listen to the people experiencing this difficult situation.” “We don’t know if the government is listening to our words – Father Aguilar pointed out -. But we must always raise our voices to denounce wrongs and injustices.

In the present situation there is no guarantee that the elections will be truly democratic,

Because the National Electoral Council is biased in favour of the government.” Postponing the election, said the spokesperson of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, would leave time enough to “enable candidates, currently unable to participate, to run for presidency,” and “resolve the humanitarian crises caused by the shortage of food, medicines, and electricity”, along with skyrocketing inflation.

“We need a free, democratic nation that has confidence in its institutions. Against this backdrop, the bishops call upon the Venezuelan Government to postpone elections to the end of the year”

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