By Fr. Benedict Mayaki, SJ
Venezuelan Bishops, in a statement released on Thursday, have called on the government to create a “long-term and inclusive” national plan to save the country in the face of its social, political and economic problems.
“We are experiencing very problematic moments in our country; on the one hand, we share with the whole world the serious situation of the Covid-19 pandemic that is spreading massively in the country, but, on the other hand, we suffer the ravages of the serious economic, political, and social problems which are becoming more and more intense, generating suffering and uncertainty in the population,” reads the statement.
“Our people, everyone, without distinction, is immersed in a chain of calamities,” said the Bishops.
The Bishops point out that the poor and the migrants have been most affected by the pandemic. The situation is further exacerbated by the government’s inability to respond beyond temporary measures, which are necessary, but insufficient.
In the midst of the lockdown measures, note the Bishops, there is “an immense clamor that rises to the sky in the face of the helplessness of millions of men and women without economic resources, without food, without medicines, no work, no adequate electricity, water, transport, domestic gas and fuel.”
“Economically, we see the country adrift” said the Bishops. They also warn that “the country is close to an economic collapse of great proportion” as a result of the pandemic containment measures that have reduced production and left many people unemployed.
The Bishops however, laud the efforts of medical personnel who continue to provide health care to the sick. They also encourage the gestures of solidarity from the people and organizations such as Caritas.
Appeal for change
In the face of this “morally intolerable” situation, the Bishops insist that the country should no longer content itself with temporarily alleviating the effects of the pandemic. “The time for words is over” they said. Rather, the government should “accompany and encourage the processes that lead to the necessary political, social and economic transformations.”
The Bishops propose that this transformation should start from “the needs and desires of the suffering people, who have had their dignity and rights violated.”
Another cause for concern for the Bishops is the attempt to hide the violent and repressive actions employed by the state security forces in the face of legitimate protests. They point out that in some cases, community leaders, political activists and journalists have been imprisoned without due process.
“We will not get out of this crisis by eliminating those who think differently from us,” said the Bishops. “The most urgent thing in view of the immense national, material and institutional catastrophe…is a moral action of great significance, an ethical awakening and a political-social agreement that will lead us towards the great common desire: a fundamental change…”
You can read the full statement (in Spanish) on the website of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference