New Venezuelan laws ignore will of the people, warn bishops

.- The bishops of Venezuela are heavily criticizing a new law which allows the country's President Hugo Chavez to rule by decree until the middle of 2012.

The bishops wrote in a Jan. 11 statement that the new law ignores the wishes expressed by the people in the country's congressional elections in 2010. When the final votes were tallied, the ruling party was stripped of its majority.

The statement by the Venezuelan bishops was released at the conclusion of their 95th Ordinary Assembly.

In a statement issued Jan. 11 at the conclusion of their 95th Ordinary Assembly, the bishops said the new law ignores the will of the people expressed in the congressional elections of September of 2010, in which ruling party was stripped of its majority.

Chavez claims that the new law, known as the Law of Empowerment, will allow him to properly address the recent widespread flooding within the country. However, the bishops noted that the law was passed in order to limit the power of the new assembly that took office on Jan. 4.

The Venezuelan bishops also criticized the outgoing assembly for passing 25 laws in less than one month. The laws, the bishops said, mostly restrict “the rights and guarantees enjoyed by Venezuelans” and also “incorporate proposals for constitutional reform that were rejected by the people in 2007.”

“The new laws have very little to do with the real problems of the country,” the bishops charged.  “In fact, the situation in Venezuela is very grave due to the incessant increase in the lack of security ... the growing national debt, the immense lack of housing and the increase in the cost of living,” they added.

New laws on telecommunications and universities place limits on freedom of conscience, in order to squash dissent and bolster the government’s monopoly on the media, they continued.

Other laws undermine the constitutional authority of governors and mayors, the bishops noted.

They also denounced the unconstitutional confiscation of farms, lands and buildings as violations of the right to own property.  The government cannot assume total control over the lives of its citizens “nor establish conditions to remain perpetually in power,” the bishops said, drawing their statement to a close. 

“It is contrary to Christian values, human rights and common sense to destroy those who think differently or condemn them to silence.”

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