The president of the Venezuelan Bishops’ Conference, Archbishop Ubaldo Santana of Maracaibo, has warned that the country is investing too much money in the purchasing of armaments and not enough in the struggle against poverty, “a much more real war.”

Speaking at the opening of the bishops’ Plenary Assembly, the archbishop’s comments came as President Hugo Chavez announced his intention to build up the country’s military defenses in preparation for a supposed foreign invasion.  The Venezuelan president also said he hopes to bring together all of the different military forces of South America.

“The bishops have always believed that too much money is being invested into the purchase of armaments instead of into other areas.  I think there is a much more real, much more concrete war that we must confront, which is the war against the poverty, misery, poor health, and malnutrition that has been affecting all Venezuelans for many decades,” Archbishop Santana said.

He argued that the war against poverty is something that could unite all Venezuelans, since no one would oppose any initiative that would more widely, “confront the grave scourge of poverty.”