Venezuelan Prelate Calls for Defense of Human Rights

At Opening of Episcopate’s Meeting

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CARACAS, Venezuela, JAN. 12, 2005 ( Troubled Venezuela needs to see a «defense and promotion of the dignity of the person and the totality of his human rights,» says the president of the bishops’ conference.

Archbishop Baltazar Porras issued that warning last Friday when analyzing the national situation at the opening of the bishops’ 83rd ordinary assembly.

He pointed to the controversy surrounding last year’s election that kept President Hugo Chávez in power. Opposition forces claimed fraud in the election.

«The haphazard and controversial holding of the recall referendum and of regional elections, the expressions of citizen repression, legal restrictions, and patent incidents of unpunished violence and unheard of hired assassins» are issues cited by the Merida archbishop.

It is a picture that questions «the effective validity of a coexistence based on genuine human and Christian values,» he said.

The archbishop referred to the «paradoxical situation» in which «on one hand, the executive power and, in general, the official sector, propound a great national dialogue,» but on the other, there are realities «that entail the danger of exclusion, contrary to the virtues of truth, freedom and justice.»

Among the troubling situations, he said, is «the implantation of a legal reality that, opposing the constitutional letter, continues to delay the development of social, economic and political rights, [and] dangerously penalizes conduct and opinions.»

Also worrying, he said, are the reports of human-rights group «which point out a clear deficit in surmounting corruption, impunity, discrimination, and administrative reprisals.»

Archbishop Porras insisted: «The country belongs to everyone and its construction and reconciliation is the mission and task of all the people.» He called for «an open space for all, regardless of those who received the greatest support, and without excluding the other side.»

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