Hugo Chavez's eighteen months of special ruling powers and the new package of laws that dramatically expand his rule in the country created a strong debate inside Venezuela against the government. The Catholic Church has also expressed its fears, affirming that the new Enabling Law moves the country towards a dictatorship, similar to Cuba's with Fidel Castro.

Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, warned Chavez on TV to behave in a responsible way towards Venezuela, in case Chavez wants "to impose a totalitarian dictatorship that would certainly mean something terrible for Venezuela,"

This is not the first time that Cardinal Urosa courageously expressed his opinions: last summer, the Archbishop declared that Chavez and his government are disregarding the Constitution and "want to impose a Socialist-Marxist system in the country to control all sectors. This system is totalitarian and is leading to dictatorship; not to proletarian dictatorship but to dictatorship led by the elite who are ruling the country."

From the press:

  • Cardinal Urosa: "We are moving towards a dictatorship"
  • Archbishop Luckert: Chavez's emergency power "is an abuse and a violation of the Constitution"
  • Archbishop Luckert: "We are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years"
  • Venezuelan archbishop Porras denies WikiLeaks report, claiming that he requested the U.S. government to make known its criticism of Chavez
  • Porras denies allegation on offering the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church
  • Archbishop Porras: Emergency powers would endanger the cause of freedom

December 26, 2010

Cardinal Urosa: "We are moving towards a dictatorship"

The new package of laws which was approved by the National Assembly presents, according to Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, an unprecedented situation. "This is something that demands some reflection, and I am saying this to government officials, since they are creating an intolerable situation and [they are displaying] lack of respect for human rights and for the will of the people."

Urosa calls for a change in the name of social peace. "The enabling laws, as well as the reform of the internal and debates regulations in the National Assembly, are all aimed at cancelling the legislative powers and to concentrate all legislative capacities upon the person of the President of the Republic" says Urosa. "And this, for sure, is not democratic, because it cancels and does not recognize the will of the people, as expressed on September 26th and it represents an attack against peace in the country."

Cardinal [Urosa] is afraid that the enabling [law] will put an end to the figure of members of parliament as we know it today: "Elected people, whether in government or in the opposition, will be simply annihilated by such a law and because of the changes concerning the internal and debates regulations."

Urosa had already expressed, during his interview with [the media outlet] Globovisión on December 24th, his views on the package of laws that were approved during the course of this month by the National Assembly. "We are moving towards a dictatorship, without the slightest doubt," he said on Christmas Eve. "My call to those who guide the destiny of the nation is that they should realize the very high responsibility that they will carry before History and before God, in case they want to impose a totalitarian dictatorship that would certainly mean something terrible for Venezuela."

Despite his perception of political reality, Cardinal [Urosa] rejected the idea that violence should be used "because this would not be the right path and would be totally harmful for the people who intend to practice it;" and indicated [the adoption] of peaceful resistance, which does not necessarily mean passive. "It is not up to me to say how this peaceful resistance should be articulated, because I am not a political agent," he explained. El Universal (Venezuela)

December 21, 2010

Archbishop Luckert: Chavez's emergency power "is an abuse and a violation of the Constitution"

Venezuela's National Assembly approved President Chavez's request to rule by decree for 18 months. The additional power, the president argued, would help him address the damaging floods within the country.

The law comes just weeks before the new National Assembly, elected earlier this year, takes office. During the elections on Sept. 26, Chavez's ruling party only won 95 of the 165 seats in the Assembly, which is not enough to maintain a majority. Although three Assembly members from other parties are expected to vote with the ruling party, with just 98 votes, Chavez would still fall short of a two-thirds majority needed to get his measures passed.

The new law gives Chavez the power to enact laws on land use, the military and police forces, transportation and public services. He will also have greater control over the treasury and the tax code, urban and rural development, international relations and the emergency response to the flooding.

Archbishop Luckert […] [said] that the measure is "an abuse and a violation of the Constitution," as Chavez already has "many ways in which he can do what he wants" to address the crisis caused by flooding. The new law has turned the National Assembly into "a congress of political eunuchs who will not be able to do what they are supposed to do," he stated.

The tasks of lawmakers are "to pass laws, to legislate - not to sit on their hands and act like useless fools or mute dogs in a congress in which they won't be able to do anything," the archbishop continued.

Archbishop Luckert: "We are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years"

"Personally I think they want to turn this new Legislative Assembly - which the ruling party will not have the majority - into a pack of dogs with no bark. They won't be able to speak up when they should and they won't be able to pass laws that will truly benefit the country. "Why do we want lawmakers who will have their hands tied?" he asked.

Archbishop Luckert said the new law has turned the country into "a constitutional democratic dictatorship" that is being set up under the cover of law. Venezuela is following the lead of Cuba, he warned.

"All of these laws or norms are part of the Cuban package and the Cuban advisors are trying to impose them on Venezuela," he said. "We are going down the same path as the Castro autocracy that has afflicted that poor country for 59 years," the archbishop warned. Catholic News Agency

December 17, 2010

Archbishop Porras: Emergency powers would endanger the cause of freedom

A Venezuelan prelate has expressed concern that the new extraordinary powers sought by President Hugo Chavez could aggravate the severe divisions within the country.

Archbishop Baltazar Porras, the vice-president of the Venezuelan Episcopal conference, said that the emergency powers that Chavez has requested would endanger the cause of freedom, encourage corruption in government, and exacerbate political tensions between the Chavez government and its critics. Catholic Culture

December 16, 2010

Venezuelan archbishop Porras denies WikiLeaks report, claiming that he requested the U.S. government to make known its criticism of Chavez

The vice president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference has characterized the information in a recently released WikiLeaks cable as "a science fiction movie script."

The report, released Dec. 13, accused Archbishop Baltazar Porras of seeking help from the United States to contain the "regional aspirations" of Venezuelan President Chavez.

WikiLeaks published an excerpt of a 2005 cable from the U.S. embassy in Caracas, Venezuela according to which Archbishop Porras allegedly requested that the U.S. government make known its criticism of Hugo Chavez. The archbishop purportedly warned that the Venezuelan president was intending to dismantle democratic civil society, organized employment, the business sector and the Church.

Archbishop Porras explained […] that the WikiLeaks cable which was reprinted by the Venezuelan News Agency read like "a science-fiction movie script that has absolutely no basis."

Porras denies allegation of offering the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church

He said allegations that he offered the U.S. access to the infrastructure of the Church are not in keeping with "the actions of the Church" or with his actions as then-president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference. "None of these things took place," he said.

Archbishop Porras expressed regret that the Venezuelan News Agency decided to reprint the allegations along with negative comments about the bishops. The government-run media has been engaged in an "orchestrated" campaign against numerous Church leaders in the country, he said, including Cardinal Jorge Urosa of Caracas and Archbishop Roberto Luckert of Coro.

Such actions are intended to merely undermine the credibility of the Church among Venezuelans, he added. Church leaders in the country only seek "to serve and to simply be a voice crying out in the wilderness to make the commandment to love God and neighbor a reality," the archbishop concluded. Catholic News Agency

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