Shortly after Venezuela's supreme court revised its decision effectively stripping the legislature of its powers this weekend, one of the country's cardinals responded by calling the reversal a mere “cosmetic retouching.”
Venezuela's Supreme Court, packed with supporters of president Nicolas Maduro, announced March 29 that it would assume the functions of the National Assembly, where the opposition holds a majority.
The move was denounced domestically and internationally as a coup and a blow to democracy. In the face of this criticism Maduro asked the court to revise its rulings, which it did April 1.
“The corrections to the rulings are cosmetic retouchings that do not resolve the situation in the least, because the measures that shut down the National Assembly as an autonomous power continue, and confound the population,” Cardinal Baltazar Porras Cardozo of Merida responded April 2.
Cardinal Porras said that there remains the request “made last year that the legislature be restored to its full authority. This is a universal demand of many countries.”
The Archbishop of Merida said the lack of popular sovereignty and refusing participation to any group dissenting from the central government is reprehensible.
“If this continues, it can be an invitation to chaos and disorder and provoke an unnecessary bloodbath. If there are reasons to disown the legislature, it's the people who have to decide that. At this time the real needs of the people are the lack of food and medicine,” he noted.
Similarly, Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas pointed out that “the blockade of the National Assembly persists.”
“I'm still worried that the country has been in a state of emergency regarding economic matters for about a year. This is not normal,” he said April 2.
He likewise noted that the government's controversial measures “such as the cancellation of the (presidential) recall referendum, that the problem of the representatives from Amazonas state has not been resolved, that the election of governors has been postponed. All this sets up a dictatorship.”
One of the most contentious issues the country faces is the economy, where the world's highest inflation rates, price controls, and failed economic policies have resulted in severe shortages of basic necessities like medicines, milk, flour, toilet paper, and other essentials.
Venezuela's socialist government, in power since 1999, is widely blamed for the crisis.
The shortages have their roots in policies enacted by Hugo Chavez in 2003 that control the price of nearly 160 products such as flour, milk, oil and soap. While these products are affordable at the government listed price, they are in short supply and fly off the shelves, ending up on the black market at much higher rates.