.- The bishops of Venezuela meeting for the Plenary Assembly issued a statement calling on government officials to respect the will of the people and not seek to impose the government's agenda on the country by force.
The bishops lamented that the actions of the government have excluded some sectors of the country from participating in the life of the country and exercising their citizenship. “It is not possible to achieve understanding or have peace in a nation in which the government seeks to impose its agenda for the country by force, especially when such a pretention has been rejected by the voters, as happened in the referendum of December 2, 2007,” they said. The bishops also pointed out that influential Venezuelans have tried to prevent or undermine the actions of democratically elected officials, thus ignoring the will of the people. Such actions call into question the validity and effectiveness of elections, they said.
The bishops went on to explain that there is growing criticism of the “arbitrary administration of justice in which people are not treated equally before the law as citizens but rather based on their ideological position or political militancy.”
They said it was “unacceptable that due process is not followed for everyone and that different measures are applied according to the person or group in question, that people are condemned without a trial, that sentences are handed down based on arguments that have no direct relation to the accusations and without proof, that disproportionate penalties are imposed for the purpose of political retaliation.”
The bishops said that together all of these situations underscore the increasing blurring of lines between political parties, the government and the state, and they lead to greater division and polarization in the country, putting the democratic system in crisis. “Democracy implies the separation of powers, a plurality of thought and equality for all. Beyond all the discourses, democracy should be characterized, above all, by real interest in the people and in effective and just solutions to daily problems,” they said.
The bishops concluded their statement encouraging all Venezuelans to seek greater understanding and consensus in order to improve their country and to bring about the changes needed, despite the difficulties and limitations.
“Venezuela has a future and we must all take part in building it!” the bishops said.