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PopeWatch: Venezuela

 

Events are quickly coming to a head in Venezuela, as Father de Souza at Crux tells us:

 

The Holy See declared itself on Friday against the brutal regime of Nicolas Maduro, capping an extraordinary few months of masterful maneuvering by the bishops of Venezuela. They have preserved the integrity of the Church’s witness in the face of a tyrant that has starved his people and refused to permit foreign aid to help them.

The statement of the Holy See’s Secretariat of State calls on Maduro to abandon his plans to hold a “constituent assembly” to rewrite the constitution in his favour. It calls again for human rights to be respected, and refers to earlier calls for political prisoners to be released and new elections to be held – which, presumably and hopefully – would lead to the end of Maduro’s regime.

Venezuela has been plunged into a lethal crisis by a communist government that has doubled down on totalitarian measures to tighten its grip on power. The collapse of petro-communism in Venezuela is now more severe than the Great Depression in the United States, or the economic decline of Russia after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

But it’s wrong to blame falling oil prices, which in any case have recently stabilized. There are no other petro-states in which the citizenry is without food or toilet paper, fleeing as refugees without papers because the government no longer has the capacity to print passports.

Venezuela has descended rapidly into starvation poverty because during the boom years the regime of Hugo Chavez ran up record debts to plug the holes in its failed, corrupt economic policies. Now under his successor, Nicolas Maduro, there is nothing left in the exchequer and little new borrowing to be had. The economic catastrophe has undermined the regime’s support, which is why Maduro has resorted to lethal violence, rampant thuggery and totalitarian measures to change the constitution to preserve his hold on power.

In the aftermath of Sunday’s vote for Maduro’s new constituent assembly – boycotted by the opposition – the government seized opposition leaders and continued its killing of protesters in the streets. The Venezuelan bishops stood with the opposition, and with the protesters. Indeed, one extraordinary photo shows Venezuelan priests facing armed government forces in the streets, pleading for them to allow medical care for a young man they had shot. The government forces let him die.

The country’s bishops made clear by name the cause of Venezuela’s agony, tweeting on Sunday a prayer to “free our homeland from the claws of communism and socialism.” It is not a matter of a clumsy bureaucracy, or of squabbling factions, or unfortunate economic shocks; Venezuela has been brought low by a failed ideology.

The Venezuelan Church now stands squarely in solidarity with the opposition and the people in the streets against the Maduro regime. In the weeks ahead, we might hope for something like the happy ending of the People Power revolution of 1986 in the Philippines, when the Filipino Church was at the forefront of the protests that brought down the regime of Ferdinand Marcos.

However matters play out in Venezuela, the leading bishops of the country have ensured that the Church’s witness will not be ambiguous. Even a few months ago, the role of the Church was confusing in Venezuela, with the astonishing phenomenon of Maduro repeatedly insisting that the bishops drop their opposition to him out of obedience to Pope Francis, who called repeatedly for dialogue but would not clearly criticize the Maduro regime, as he did yesterday.

Defenders of the previous papal strategy considered it an attempt to keep the lines of communication open, preserving the capacity of the Church to act as a mediator. Critics of the strategy thought it foolish to call for dialogue as between the predator and his prey, when the only path ahead for Venezuela was for Maduro and his socialist/communist regime to go.

 

Go here to read the rest.  It is easy to be cynical about the Church when one views the shenanigans at the Vatican.  But the Church is vast and the bishops of Venezuela, at considerable personal risk to themselves, have been covering themselves and the local Church with glory by their brave stance against the oppressors of their flock.  May God and we help them.

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

11 Comments

  1. The typical leftist knows absolutely nothing.

    The main difference between Nazism and socialism is that nobody ever said, “True Nazism has never been tried.”

  2. Latin American strong men, once they have power, are not known for backing down.

    No. When the going gets too tough, they get out of Dodge before the posse catches them. One recent one (Manuel Noriega) was ejected by the U.S. military. There haven’t been many since 1970 who lasted more than about a half-dozen years. Anastasio Somoza fils (12 years), Omar Torrijos (12 years), Juan Velasco Alvarado (8 years), Hugo Banzar (7 years), Augusto Pinochet (15 years, left voluntarily according to constitutional procedures), and Alfredo Stroessner (35 years). None of these lasted past 1990. Messrs Fujimori, Chavez, Correa, and Morales were electoral politicians, albeit abusive ones.

  3. “Venezuela has descended rapidly into starvation poverty because during
    the boom years the regime of Hugo Chavez ran up record debts to plug
    the holes in its failed, corrupt economic policies.”

    Hugo was plugging holes in a failed, corrupt economic policy he forced
    onto his people– and like most socialist leaders, he was taking good care
    of his own pocketbook at the same time. When he finally did Venezuela
    a good turn and died, Chavez had a personal wealth estimated at $2 billion.
    There’s likely even more squirreled away in secret overseas accounts. His
    daughter Maria Gabriela is widely acknowledged to be the wealthiest
    person in Venezuela today, with a fortune of about $4.2 billion. She has
    holed up in the presidential palace, and refuses to move out. A large part
    of her fortune came from cornering the market on importation of rice– a
    staple of the diet of Venezuela’s people– and promptly hiking the price
    80%. In Venezuela, she’s contemptuously referred to as “Reina del Arroz”.

    I very much doubt that today’s ordinary Venezuelans have any more illusions
    about either the true nature of socialism or the left’s supposed concern for
    the poor. Would that this Pope would also look and learn.

  4. Would it be OK if I ncross-posted this article to WriterBeat.com? There is no fee; I’m simply trying to add more content diversity for our community and I enjoyed reading your work. I’ll be sure to give you complete credit as the author. If “OK” please let me know via email.

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  5. Art Deco wrote, “No. When the going gets too tough, they get out of Dodge before the posse catches them.”

    Response: where’s the posse for the Latin American strong man occupying the See of St. Peter?

    Sorry, I can’t help myself, Art. Rhetorical question only. But yes, you have a valid point. These Caudillos as T. Shaw describes them are bullies at heart and bullies are usually cowards – they can’t face the music when it comes their way.

  6. Gee, the Holy Father and the Holy See finally declared itself against the Venezuelan regime. It only took about 4 years.

    But they were very quick to be against the Trump regime.

    Idiots, everywhere idiots.

  7. “The Holy See declared itself on Friday against the brutal regime of Nicolas Maduro, capping an extraordinary few months of masterful maneuvering by the bishops of Venezuela. They have preserved the integrity of the Church’s witness in the face of a tyrant that has starved his people and refused to permit foreign aid to help them.”

    This is what it takes for Pope Francis to change his mind: thousands dead, mass starvation, pleading by his Bishops, murderous dictator. In part the blood of this situation is on Pope Francis hands. The Pope of mercy no less!

  8. There’s a whole lot of ruin in the world and ordinarily I wouldn’t expect Francis to comment on much of it explicitly. What a traditionalist priest told me a dozen years ago is, I suspect, true: the Pope shouldn’t say too much. The task of elucidating doctrinal or moral points should be enough to consume his public utterances. What you notice though, is that this Pope yaps about everything and makes ill-judged utterances routinely. You notice when he doesn’t say something.

    One might hope that Venezuela’s decision-making element and it’s populace will productively reflect on the experience of the last five decades and draw salutary conclusions (once the atrocious Maduro is out of the way).

  9. These Caudillos as T. Shaw describes them are bullies at heart and bullies are usually cowards – they can’t face the music when it comes their way.

    If you review the list above, you’ll notice that none of the military men appeared on the scene after 1973 (and Pinochet acted only consequent to extreme provocation and engineered a salutary restructuring of Chile’s political economy). As for the electoral politicians on the list, Maduro and Morales are the only one’s remaining. Morales’ background is in commercial agriculture, and that knowledge base seems to constrain him from the worst sort of economic atrocities.

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