Venezuelan bishops give Pope death report on crisis

Demonstrators mourn deaths in Venezuelan riots.

VATICAN CITY - Pope Francis has met today with six Venezuelan bishops representing the Presiding Council of the Episcopal Conference on their request in order to try and end the anti-government  turmoil currently taking place in the Latin American country. In the half an hour meeting the bishops presented Francis with a file “Deaths during the protests”, which includes key figures and details about the humanitarian crisis. 

Among the bishops was Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, Archbishop of Caracas, the country’s capital. The dossier suggests he has kept to his word having spoken to Crux, an independent Catholic news site, on Tuesday about the meeting: “We’re going to give him a very direct, crude, realistic view of the situation we are going through. We, as bishops, live in different parts of the country, and each one has a vision and a lot of information, many contacts.” 

The situation in Venezuela has worsened dramatically since September 2015, when the pontiff last met with the bishops and asked them to make “dialogue and reconciliation” pastoral priorities. The pope has previously been criticised for not speaking out more about the repression by the left-wing Venezuelan government. Crux has commented that “such a step would require Francis to direct criticism at a Latin American leftist, which he heretofore has not done.”

Since the violent protest against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro started back in the beginning of April, 66 people have died. 

The latest victim is a 17-year-old boy who was killed today in Cacaras during the riots that took place after the Venezuelan National Electoral Council announced elections for the National Constituent Assembly on July 30. He is reported to have been hit in the chest with a tear gas canister. 196 people have also been wounded since the protests began.

In an interview with Radio Vaticano, Assunta Maria Vi Tino counsellor from the charity “Latino Americana – Italia” commented: “In 60 days over 60 people have been killed. Food is another of the extremely serious problems in Venezuela: there is not enough food to feed a people. Lack of freedom of expression is also one of the most serious problems.”