The archbishop of Caracas called on the Venezuelan government to put an end to the violent repression of demonstrators and the “collective” groups of armed motorcyclists, supporters of the regime, who attack opponents.

The request of the Catholic Church came on the same day that groups of “colectivos” entered the basilica of Santa Teresa and intimidated hundreds of people who venerated the Nazarene of São Paulo
MIGUEL GUTIERREZ / EPA

The archbishop of Caracas on Wednesday asked the Venezuelan government to put an end to the violent repression of demonstrators and the “collective” groups of armed motorcyclists, supporters of the regime, who attack opponents.

“We express concern about the violent repression by the Government and we ask you to detain it. Smart would be for the government to allow the demonstrations, but mainly to solve the problems, “said Jorge Urosa Savino at a press conference in Caracas.

The request of the Catholic Church came on the same day that groups of “collectives” entered the basilica of St. Teresa and intimidated hundreds of people who worshiped the Nazarene of St. Paul, a tradition that marks the Holy Week in the country.

Urosa Savino argued that the government should end the “collectives”: “These groups of armed civilians who are illegal, commit crimes, act with much impunity and that the government [of President Nicolás Maduro] can not continue to protect.” The archbishop stressed that the Vatican is permanently monitoring what happens in Venezuela.

The president of the Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Francisco José Virtuoso, said that the academic institution “should not and can not remain silent about the violation of human rights and impunity in Venezuela.” “Protesting is not a crime, it is a human right that must be respected and guaranteed by the state, as established in the Constitution,” said the Rector at the same press conference.

Venezuelans want the government to fully recognize the parliament and restore all its functions, to convene regional and municipal elections, as provided in the constitution and with full guarantees, he said.

Francisco José Vitorino also defended that the Venezuelan authorities must annul the decision prohibiting the governor and former opposition candidate Henrique Capriles from holding public office for the next 15 years. The president added that the government should release political prisoners and take into account the serious “rupture of the constitutional order”, denounced by the Attorney General Luísa Ortega Diaz, of the two judgments of the Venezuelan Supreme Court.

Sentences, issued March 30 by the Supreme Court, limited parliamentary immunity and conferred on that court powers of the parliament, currently controlled by opponents of the Maduro government. A day later, Nicolas Maduro called a security council and asked the court to review the decisions, prompting the Supreme to announce annulment of the ruling to take over the legislative powers of the National Assembly (parliament).

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