During the Venezuelan bishops’ plenary assembly on Wednesday, the conference president said that one of the main battles that must be fought in the country is the demand for human rights violations to cease.
Today’s battles include “using all constitutional and legal mechanisms to demand an end to the violation of human rights” and “becoming aware of the deterioration the country has suffered and making the necessary decisions for a relevant change in leadership” so that new leaders “will have a greater commitment to the people and not to their parties or ideologies,” Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala of Maracaibo said July 7.
Other battles the country must engage in include, he said, “establishing ourselves as a people-nation”, “taking up again the vocation to citizenship”, “the battle for quality education”, and “recognizing ourselves as beings with dignity and working and journeying together to build fraternity and social friendship.”
Under the socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has been marred by violence, political and social upheaval, with severe shortages of food and medicine, high unemployment, power outages, and hyperinflation. Over four million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015.
The independent Venezuelan non-governmental organization Provea reported March 9, 2021, that at least 2,853 people were killed by the state’s armed forces in 2020.
The collaborative platform Monitor de Víctimas reported 87 extrajudicial executions from June 1, 2020 to March 22, 2021, according to a June 2021 document from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Given the situation in the country, Archbishop Azuaje stressed there is an urgent need “to re-found the nation,” the nation being “a symbolic entity that culturally links the state territory with the citizenship, creating the loyalty and cohesion necessary so that the link between the state and the citizenry is permanent and stable over time.”
That link, the archbishop continued, “is currently broken and therefore it must be refounded.” “We must once again regain the strength to be ‘subjects’ (free individuals, the philosophical term), regain autonomy and freedom as citizens and as a nation in the face of the foreign political-cultural invasion in which we find ourselves. There can be no freedom without a ‘subject’ who takes up that value,” he added.
Archbishop Azuaje said that “reconstruction, remaking the nation, rehabilitating politics, is not done overnight, nor is it done using the same traditional methods of previous years.”
He said that what must be done is “to approach one another, express ourselves, listen to each other, look at each other, know each other, try to understand each other, look for points of contact.”
“The very serious problem in our country today is that everyone wants to go their own way. Journeying together is the constitutive path of the Church and, we could say, of the people,” the archbishop said.
Archbishop Azuaje said that today is a time of grace, of inculturation, of listening, of encounter, of proclamation, of “building bridges rather than walls” and of “creating a better and greater us.”
“Only out of the freedom to express ourselves, to listen to each other, to dialogue, take advice, judge and evaluate what we have experienced, make decisions together, can changes in our society be possible,” he concluded.