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Venezuelan bishops stand up to Maduro dictatorship as protests devolve into violence and executions

Mayhem: An injured demonstrator is assisted during a violent protest near Carlota airbase in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 30. Photo: CNS

ATROCITIES perpetrated by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro and his government may constitute crimes against humanity, a new report from Amnesty International said.

“The international community cannot turn its back on the victims of this unprecedented crisis, whether they remain inside Venezuela or have left the country,” Amnesty International’s Erika Guevara-Rosas said.

In late January at least 47 people in 12 of the country’s 23 states were killed during protests, the report said.

State security forces allegedly killed 33 of those people during the protests, while third parties acting with the approval of the authorities during the demonstrations killed six.

Eleven of the deaths were extrajudicial executions, six of which Amnesty International documents in detail in its report.

“People don’t understand the magnitude of the issue and the crimes being committed against the Venezuelan people,” lecturer in Political Communication and Public Affairs at The University of Queensland Dr Elena Block said.

“In Venezuela, people are very Catholic,” Ms Block, who is a parishioner at St Stephen’s Cathedral in Brisbane, said.

“It’s a very old country and the Catholics are being very militant and activist against the regime.

“The Catholic hierarchy has been fairly committed.

“The Conferencia Episcopal de Venezuela (Episcopal Conference of Venezuela) has released several statements about the situation in Venezuela.

“In Venezuela the medication for the poor, for the low-income people in the shanty towns is (provided) by the Catholic Church.”

A recent report from the conference said it would continue to denounce and reject the injustices and violence that had been “unleashed among the population”.

“In the midst of the harsh situations that our country experiences, and the high risk that citizens live in recent years, the Venezuelan episcopate has remained in defence of the people,” the conference said.

Several factors like crime, the economy, and political corruption had made the Venezuelan crisis an extremely complex issue, Ms Block said.

“It is more complex than many people think,” she said. “This is not about right or left, or about socialism versus capitalism.

“It’s not at all. It’s not about US sanctions. The US sanctions are relatively recent and they probably don’t help from the perspective of the economy, but they are not to blame.

“It’s the government that’s been inefficient and mismanaged everything in Venezuela.”

St Stephen’s parishioner Alejandro Quijada Ode, who left Venezuela two years ago after completing a Civil Engineering degree, said many of his relatives still remained in the country.

“A big part of my family remains there,” Mr Quijada Ode said.

“It’s uncertain if they are safe, because the level of crime has risen a lot.

“My parents and my sister are living in Argentina. They’ve been there for almost a year.”

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