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Venezuelan bishops’ conference backs pro-democracy marches, calls for change

Thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets March 10 in Caracas and other cities to demand democratic change, amid the ongoing economic, political and social crises in the country under the regime of President Nicholas Maduro.

“Today, March 10, the Venezuelan people have returned to the streets demanding their rights and manifesting their desire for a change of direction in the economy and the political order to permit democracy,” the president of the Venezuelan bishops’ conference, Archbishop José Luis Azuaje of Maracaibo, said in a statement

“The deterioration in the quality of life, which has led us to get by as best we can, without electricity, without water, without just compensation for our work, without gasoline, without peace, without family” has created “social instability and greater poverty,” the bishop added.

The march was led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó, and organized to present to the National Assembly a call for free and fair presidential elections.

As  Guaidó led the marchers toward the National Assembly building, they were blocked by security forces.

Police used teargas to turn back the marchers before they reached the National Assembly. Opposition party lawmakers held an impromptu, but legally valid, outdoor session of the legislative assembly in a nearby city square.

In January 2019, Guaidó, as president of Venezuela’s National Assembly, declared himself interim president of the country, after president Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term, having won a contested election in which opposition candidates were barred from running or imprisoned. Guaidó and the Venezuelan bishops held Maduro’s second term to be invalid, and the presidency vacant.

Much of the international community consider Maduro’s re-election illegitimate. Nearly 60 nations led by the United States have recognized Guaidó as the country’s acting president, but with the backing of the military, Maduro is firmly entrenched and Guaidó has no practical power other than the popular support he can muster.

Read more at Catholic News Agency

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