.- Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro and vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference expressed his concern this week over the growing sense of fear that has gripped the country due to the actions of President Hugo Chavez’s government.
In statements to Union Radio, the archbishop defended the right of bishops to express their opinions when they feel it is necessary.
“This government’s plan is to instill fear in the people, and that is what they are doing; through power they are instilling fear in the Venezuelan people. The spouses of political prisoners are trying to get signatures for an amnesty law and they are telling us that nobody wants to sign because they are afraid, that if they sign they will lose their jobs, and that is part of the plan. Just as Fidel imposed his rule through an iron fist, here too we are being cowed with terror and fear,” he said.
Archbishop Luckert called on the opposition to bring this subject out into the open with the people. “It seems that they want to corner us, just as they cornered the media, university professors, unions, businessmen. The idea is to shut us up and instill fear in us, and that would make us be quiet and would be the most disturbing and shameful thing that could happen in the country, that out of silence and cowardice we shut up,” he added.
The archbishop also explained that the Church defends freedom of expression and that the bishops have the obligation to “denounce what is coming to this country. What they want to do is make us a carbon copy of way things are done in Cuba.”