Venezuelan religious call for autonomy among branches of government

Violence during protests in Venezuela Credit Diariocritico de Venezuela via Flickr CC BY 20 CNA 2 Violence during anti-government protests in Venezuela. | Diariocritico de Venezuela via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

A group of religious men and women in Venezuela have expressed their concern over the country's political crisis and the lack of autonomy of the branches of the federal government.

"As consecrated religious , we invite and accompany our people to demonstrate their will, joined with sound judgement and non-violence, but with forcefulness, so that the arbitrariness leading us to a situation of dictatorship is corrected," the Conference of Religious Men and Women of Venezuela (CONVER) said in an April 4 statement.

Venezuela's crisis sharpened last week after the nation's Supreme Court announced it would assume the functions of the National Assembly, but quickly made an about-face and revised its ruling.

The government and supreme court are in the hands of the Socialist Party, while the opposition gained control of the legislature in 2015. The supreme court's move last week was denounced both domestically and abroad as a coup, and despite the court's reversal large protests have been held in the capital Caracas this week.

The religious criticized the "lack of autonomy" among the five branches of Venezuela's government: the exective, legislative, judicial, electoral, and citizen branches.

They thus showed their support for the Venezuelan bishops' conference, which on March 31 pointed out that the Supreme Court rulings were "morally unacceptable decisions and therefore reprehensible."

They also criticized "the indolence of the national government in face of the critical situation our people are going through, demonstrating once again that they're only interested in the struggle to stay in power with no concern for the price or the consequences of ignoring the voice of the people who are  crying out for assistance, food, medicine, security, education and a healthy coexistence in peace."

"We call on them to take the firm steps necessary to allow the country to return to normality, guaranteeing democratic processes which will redound to the good of the inhabitants of Venezuela," CONVER stated.

Before concluding, the religious asked God to "bless our suffering people, and may the Virgin of Coromoto, who knows the sentiments of the Venezuelan people, be the mother who accompanies her children who are beaten down with suffering and bewilderment by the destructive policies that simply impoverish the nation in exchange for the unscrupulous enrichment of the politicians of the day."

Venezuela's socialist government, in power since 1999, is widely blamed for Venezuela's economic crisis. The world's highest inflation rates (expected to pass 1,600 percent his year), price controls, and failed economic policies have resulted in severe shortages of basic necessities like medicines, milk, flour, toilet paper, and other essentials.

The shortages have their roots in policies enacted by Hugo Chavez in 2003 that control the price of nearly 160 products such as flour, milk, oil, and soap. While these products are affordable at the government listed price, they are in short supply and fly off the shelves, ending up on the black market at much higher rates.

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