CARACAS, Venezuela — Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas expressed Tuesday his “astonishment and rejection” of a series of measures that violate the “will of the sovereign people” in Venezuela.
In an Aug. 8 statement, the cardinal denounced the eviction of the country’s legislature, the National Assembly, from the Federal Legislative Palace. The action was taken so that the constituent assembly, tasked with rewriting the constitution, could meet in the building.
“This is a measure astonishing for its violence and arbitrariness,” Cardinal Urosa said, adding that it “violates the will of the people who sovereignly elected the National Assembly in the December 2015 elections.”
The National Assembly is controlled by the opposition, while the constituent assembly was elected July 30 in a process that has been denounced as fraudulent by bishops, much of the international community, and the company in charge of the election’s electronic voting system. Pope Francis had spoken against the constituent assembly’s inauguration.
“In addition to being an invalidly constituted body, since it was not convened by the people, and whose election is suspected of fraud, the constituent assembly doesn’t have the right to appropriate the seat of the National Assembly. That is arbitrary and violent, and, therefore, unacceptable.”
The Archbishop of Caracas also denounced that “in recent weeks, we have seen how the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice has levied very severe sanctions against several opposition mayors. Yesterday, the removal from office, imprisonment, and disqualification for the mayor of Chacao, Ramon Muchacho. And the mayor of El Hatillo, David Smolansky is summoned for tomorrow. Both, as well as the mayor of Lecheria, have been charged with contempt by the court.”
“Those sanctions go against the rights of those mayors and the will of the people who elected them to govern their towns,” he stated.
“The search for peace and understanding that President Maduro preaches is impeded by those measures. We ask that these actions be stopped and that an atmosphere of calm be created which will allow for finding solutions to the country’s current political, economic and social crisis,” the cardinal concluded.
The constituent assembly approved a decree Aug. 8 that it will control all the branches of the Venezuelan government.
The decree was issued a day after the National Assembly said it will ignore the decisions of the constituent assembly, and two days after a small group of soldiers and civilians from Carabobo state declared themselves in rebellion against Maduro’s government, seeking “to restore constitutional order” in the country.
Since April 1, more than 120 people have been killed in protests against Maduro’s government.
The countries of the Bolivarian Alliance for Latin America — which includes Ecuador, Bolivia, Cuba, and Nicaragua — met in Caracas recently to express their support for the constituent assembly, while another 17 nations of the Americas met in Peru to state that Maduro’s government is a dictatorship.
Among the signers of the “Lima Declaration” are Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay, Canada, and Uruguay.
The declaration states that its signatories do not recognize the constituent assembly; it fully supports the democratically elected National Assembly, only recognizing the acts that this body approves and validates; and it condemns the violation of human rights, the violence, and the repression occurring in Venezuela.