Poor economic policies, including strict price controls, coupled with high inflation rates, have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers, and medicines.
"A great darkness covers our country," the bishops wrote. "We are going through dramatic situations: the serious shortage of medicine and food. Never before had we seen our brothers rummaging through garbage in search of food!"
Their pastoral letter, written at the conclusion of the bishops' plenary assembly, criticized the social and political crisis, aggravated by the repression and arrest of opposition leaders, the attempt by the regime to curtail the powers of the legislature, and the obstruction of the recall referendum by the National Electoral Council which prevented Venezuelans from deciding on the rule of President Nicolás Maduro, creating "disillusionment and frustration among the citizenry."
"Only in totalitarian regimes is the autonomy of public authorities ignored and free expression by the citizenry thwarted," the bishops stated.
As on other occasions, the bishops reiterated that the fundamental cause of the crisis "is the great effort the government to impose a totalitarian system … even though the Marxist socialist system has failed in all the countries in where it has been established, leaving in its wake suffering and poverty."
In that regard, they lamented the disappointing outcome of the dialogue between the regime and the opposition, in which the Holy See acted as a facilitator, mainly because of the "government's failure to comply with the agreements that had been reached during the Oct. 30, 2016 meeting … We are extremely grateful for the service provided by Pope Francis and we lament that his contribution towards peace in Venezuela was misinterpreted."