The vice president of the Bishops’ Conference of Venezuela, Archbishop Roberto Luckert, said recent actions by the Chavez government, such as the closing down of Radio and Television Caracas, have left the nation disillusioned and that Venezuelans no longer have in faith in the electoral process.
“The people have lost hope and the desire to vote,” he said. “It seems ridiculous to waste time and money to go to the polls when we know nothing will come of it. The people don’t believe in this country’s electoral process. Our discouragement only grows,” the archbishop stated.
His comments came upon the heels of a proposal by the National Electoral Council to hold a referendum on whether to remove local officials from office. However, the proposal was not warmly received by the country.
Archbishop Luckert also expressed his support for students protesting in defense of freedom of expression and autonomy for the country’s universities. “They are taking to the streets to defend constitutional rights,” he said, calling the protests “oxygen of the youth” after years of lethargy in the face of the country’s problems.
“The youth are fighting for Venezuela, for freedom, for respect for the constitutional rights of Venezuelans,” the archbishop said. President Hugo Chavez’s threats against the autonomy of universities, he went on, are due to his rejection of “any dissent” from his Socialist policies, which the archbishop described as “a military autocracy.” “They want to bring this country into the sea of happiness of Cuba, where there are not autonomous universities or freedom of expression,” he added.
Archbishop Luckert said the government’s arbitrary decision to close down Radio and Television Caracas has led to fears that Chavez will take similar steps against other entities and organizations.