Cardinal says Venezuela must take blame for 10 election-related deaths

(CNS photo/Christian Hernandez, EPA)

CARACAS, Venezuela (CNS)—Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino said the nation's government must take the blame for at least 10 deaths related to a controversial election.

"This is the responsibility of the president of the republic, the high command, and the ministers," Cardinal Urosa told the Caracas newspaper El Nacional July 31. "They will have to explain this to God" and the courts.

Advertisement

Some Venezuelans went to the polls July 30 to elect members of a Constituent Assembly, a 545-member body charged with drafting a new constitution for the country.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered on the vote May 1, but political opposition and church leaders have questioned the process, which they say overrepresented pro-government sectors, ensuring a government victory. They have warned that the new constitution could establish a one-party state. The opposition boycotted the vote and instead called on its supporters to take to the streets in protest.

"The bishops are unanimous in their rejection of this new assembly, and we are asking the government to reconsider," Cardinal Urosa told Venezuela news station Globovision the day before the vote.

On July 27, the bishops reiterated their rejection of the constituent assembly election in a seven-point communique and urged the country's armed forces to avoid more deaths in the streets.

"The primary role of the armed forces is to maintain peace and order so that all parties can act rationally and each side can build bridges to overcome the chaos we are living," the statement said.

For four months, Venezuelans have endured continuous anti-government protests that often ended in clashes with authorities. The conflicts have resulted in at least 125 dead and wounded nearly 2,000 since protests began in April.

Maduro has said the new constitution will bring peace while offering few details on how the document may be structured. Of the more than 500 delegates selected, only a handful are top government leaders, believed to be those who will lead and make decisions in the new body. Of the others elected, most are widely unknown rank-and-file Socialist Party members.

The bishops have warned that the initiative will only deepen a political and economic crisis in the country.

A three-year economic recession has resulted in shortages of basic foods and medicines.

"Let us not increase the suffering and anguish of so many people who want to live in peace," said the statement on July 27.

The newly elected constituent assembly was to be sworn in in early August.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Native American protestors hold hands with parishioner Nathanial Hall, right, during a group prayer outside the Catholic Diocese of Covington on Jan. 22, 2019, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
The furor over a chance meeting between Catholic high school students and Native American protesters underscores the need to listen and learn from indigenous voices.
Marlene LangJanuary 23, 2019
The staggering parliamentary defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May, seen here leaving 10 Downing Street on Jan. 23, pushed the country even further from safe dry land. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
After the stunning defeat of Theresa May's exit deal, Scotland is looking anew at independence, and the U.K. government fears economic disaster.
David StewartJanuary 23, 2019
Michael Osborne, a film director, documents the damage from a mud slide next to his home in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, after three days of heavy rain. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
The conceit of California-as-disaster-movie is ridiculous. But maybe watching our fires and mudslides helps other states consider both their own fragility and their underlying strength.
Jim McDermottJanuary 23, 2019
A commitment to religious liberty demands that effort be devoted to resolving, rather than exacerbating, any real or apparent tension between religious obligation and civil duty.
The EditorsJanuary 23, 2019