After violence followed a controversial vote in Venezuela this weekend, the Vatican Secretary of State has encouraged the country's citizens to find a "peaceful and democratic" way out of the crisis. The violence comes on the heels of a vote for an assembly charged by the country's socialist president, Nicolas Maduro, with writing a new constitution.
According to ANSA news agency, Cardinal Pietro Parolin said that he and Pope Francis are "very committed" to seeking a peaceful solution to the crisis in Venezuela. The Vatican has been "seeking to help all, indiscriminately, and calling each person to fulfill their own responsibility."
"The criteria should be only the good of the people,” he said. "The dead are too many and I do not think there are other criteria to follow that is not in the common good of the people," he insisted. With that in mind, Cardinal Parolin said that “it is necessary to find a peaceful and democratic way to get out of this situation, and the only way is always the same: we must find, talk, but seriously, to find a way to solution."
His statements come only days after July 30 nation-wide elections, which approved a constitutional assembly to reform the country’s 1999 constitution. However, some reports and members of Venezuela’s opposition have disputed the fairness of the elections, which were boycotted by the opposition. Although the government claims that more than 8 million voters attended, the Democratic Unity Table, an organization monitoring the election, reported that only 2.4 million votes, or 12 percent of eligible voters, were cast, of which a quarter would have voted “no”.
Furthermore, in the days leading up to and following the election, uprisings and protests swept throughout the country. Conflicts between protestors and the country’s Bolivarian National Guard have resulted in the death of at least 15 people, including two minors. According to critic of the Maduro regime and Attorney General, Luisa Ortega Díaz, "10 people lost their lives surrounding Sunday's vicious election, totaling 121 deaths since the protests began in April.”
The constitutional revisions have been rejected by the Venezuelan bishops for being not only "unconstitutional, but also unnecessary, inconvenient and harmful for the Venezuelan people." In their message of July 27, the bishops said that Maduro's initiative "has not been convened by the people, has unacceptable commissions, and only the partisans of the ruling party will be represented there."
"It will be a biased and biased instrument that will not solve, but will aggravate the acute problems of high cost of living, the shortage of food and medicines that suffer the people, and deepen and worsen the deep political crisis we currently face."
Two opposition leaders, Leopoldo López and Antonio Ledezma, have been re-arrested following the vote.