Archbishop criticises government for blocking Church aid 

The head of the Venezuelan Conference of Catholic Bishops has criticised president Nicolás Maduro for preventing the Church and other institutions from relieving the country’s severe food crisis. Venezuela’s socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Price controls on 160 essential products including food and soap introduced in 2003 led to shortages and many essential items are only available on the black market now at high prices.

In his opening speech at the Venezuelan Conference of Catholic Bishops’ recent plenary assembly, Archbishop Diego Padrón of Cumaná said “The interests of the government are not the interests of the country.” He added: “The ungovernability, aside from the brutal repression, the lack of serious and stabilizing responses that would be more than improvisational and provisional, create the widespread perception that the global crisis is getting more acute and is being prolonged with no end in sight.”

Archbishop Padrón warned that this perception creates in the population “uncertainty, hopelessness, depression, anger and social violence.” Referring to looting and riots over food shortages which took place in Cumaná and  Tucupita in last month, he said these cities and  others  “have experienced the effects of the wrong economic and social policies and the indolence of the authorities.”

Archbishop Padrón again appealed for the Church to be allowed to bring in “the medications needed by many Venezuelans requiring heightened medical attention.” Last May aid agencies made three attempts to persuade Maduro’s regime to allow them to bring food and medicine into the country.

“The ability of Caritas Venezuela to pull together resources and the cooperation of private institutions – and not of government entities – makes us capable of receiving and adequately distributing the many offers we receive daily from the outside. This is not the ultimate solution but it would provide relief that we shouldn’t be waiting for any more,” he said.

ACN Malta