May 24, 2017
[Fe y Alegría Venezuela National Director Manuel Aristorena, S.J.]
In the face of political, economic and social crises, Friends of Fe y Alegría in the United States stands in solidarity with our partners at Fe y Alegría Venezuela as we join their manifesto #BastaYa. Written by Fr. Manuel Aristorena, S.J., Fe y Alegría calls for an end to the escalating violence and intolerance plaguing the country, which has claimed over 60 lives since May 1.
Fe y Alegría once again says: “Enough!”
“Venezuela has been filled with pain, suffering, anguish, violence, fear, repression and death. Yes, a lot of death, and with cruelty.
Every society experiences struggles and conflicts. However it is the manner in which these conflicts are confronted which decide if a country’s democracy is evidenced or denied. The excessive use of force, the characterization of demonstrations as armed insurrections—and not as the fair and just indignation of the Venezuelan people—the appropriation of ordinary and civil justice by military tribunals, daily violence and death, the vandalism of public and/or public property and the cruel treatment of detainees are unacceptable for a democratic society. We are losing lives, democracy and our country.
The solution is not facing off against one another until we defeat the adversary. We’ve had enough of that. Let’s leave behind intolerance and those who are intolerant. We need to recover democratic institutions and the validity of Human Rights. We need to rebuild our democracy so that it promotes hope and life, with institutions that serve all Venezuelans, without discrimination or disqualification.
We have made Pope Francis’s words our own:
‘Dramatic news continues to reach us regarding the situation in Venezuela and the worsening of clashes there, with many people reported dead, injured and detained. I share in the pain of the families, to whom I ensure my prayers of intercession, and I appeal to the government and all the members of Venezuelan society to avoid any further forms of violence, to respect human rights and to negotiate solutions to the serious humanitarian, social, political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population. Let us entrust to the Most Holy Virgin Mary a prayer intention for peace, reconciliation and democracy in that dear country.’
Like Pope Francis, we say to all members of society, and especially to the Government: no more violence. No more killed and wounded. No more infusing fear. No more families cornered by tear gas, shotguns and bullets. No more obstacles to the freedom of movement and demonstrations. No more night raids. No more destruction of public and private goods. We reject violence, wherever it comes from.
– Rectors of the National Electoral Council: Follow through with your responsibilities. You can open ways to solutions. prove that you are an autonomous power. Recognize that a great part of what is happening is because you have not fulfilled your obligations. Be aware that part of this problem is related to the suspension of last year’s consultative referendum.
– Members of the Bolivarian Armed Forces of Venezuela: You vowed to enforce the Constitution and to protect all Venezuelans. You know and suffer this situation. You were not formed to repress the Venezuelan people or to live at war with your brothers and sisters, neighbors and fellow citizens. You are called to think and act strategically. Look beyond individual interests, emotions and reactions to the confrontation. What kind of country do you want for your children and grandchildren? For the love of God, your consciences, and the love of your families, ask yourselves: Is what we’re doing worth it?
– Executive Branch: Govern for all of us equally, respect the separation of powers, fight corruption and overcome oil dependence to become an autonomous country, capable of producing food, medicines and services this country deserves and needs. Work hard to end armed civil groups so that the Venezuelan people can walk safely down streets.
– Attorney General of the Republic: Stay vigilant and protect the validity of the laws and Constitution, and when necessary, sanction those individuals or groups who violate or attempt to violate the Constitution.
– Members of the Opposition: Your leadership will be measured by the intelligent movement of popular mobilizations, overcoming violence in all its forms. You are called to be leaders of the non-violent opposition that can shape the behavior and actions of those who mobilize. Violent confrontation is not the strategy, rather it is about gathering and garnering support among the largest number of people and social sectors. Be experts in dialogue and negotiation.
– Venezuelan society: We need to foster hope, to be firm in our democratic commitment, to positively administer indignation and rage, which overcomes the temptation to promote division, hate and revenge.
Let’s act promptly, before anarchy makes us uncontrollable.”
Fr. Manuel Aristorena, S.J. National Director, Fe y Alegría Venezuela
Caracas, May 20th, 2017