Venezuelan bishops: Country's plight requires new president

Maduro FlickrEneasDeTroyaCC BY 20 160118 Nicolas Maduro. | Eneas de Troya, Flickr

Meeting June 21 with Michelle Bachelet, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference stressed that the solution to the country's social and political crisis requires electing a new president.

Bachelet visited Venezuela June 19-20, invited by the Nicolas Maduro regime. During her trip, she met with authorities in the country, as well as victims of human rights abuses and organizations that serve them.

In their meeting with Bachelet, the bishops offered her a letter underscoring the "grave crisis the Venezuelan people are going through."

Under Maduro's administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence, social upheaval and hyperinflation.

Venezuela's socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap, medicine, milk, toilet paper, diapers and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

The Organization of American States predicts that by the end of 2020, more than 6 million Venezuelans will have fled the country.

"The Catholic Church in Venezuela since 2004 has been denouncing the situation of the grave humanitarian crisis our people are experiencing. We are defenders of life in all its aspects and the voice of the pastors is to hear the cry of our people," the bishops said.

"The massive diaspora has increased, [as well as] new forms of slavery, including human trafficking, prostitution," they said. They also highlighted the increase in child malnutrition and the frequency of water and power outages.

In Venezuela, the bishops said, "the dignity of the human person is being undervalued."

They called on Bachelet to "reflect the real face of what is going on in Venezuela," in her report.

The bishops also asked that "abusive practices be eliminated" in the country, including those of irregular armed groups "that act with impunity."

The way out of the country's crisis, they indicated, entails "the election of a new president and the recognition of the National Assembly as an entity elected by the people."

The bishops' conference warned that "the crisis the country is going through finds its roots in corruption and impunity in face of the plundering of the public treasury and not simply the sanctions that have been made."

"Before these sanctions Venezuela was already in a depressing economic situation," they said. "The grave humanitarian crisis will be resolved if the powers that be seek the common good of all."

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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