With coronavirus taking center stage in the news, it’s not surprising that other important events might escape our attention. Consider, for example, the fact that tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets this past March to demand an end to the Chavista dictatorship of President Maduro, which has driven the country into an economic black hole.
While most of Venezuela’s civil society has been coopted or crushed by the Maduro regime, there is, however, one very important exception. Lead by the Venezuelan Catholic bishops conference, the Catholic Church has not let up in its criticisms of the regime. It also continues to call for a peaceful transition from a regime that routinely falsifies elections, engages in targeted and mass violence against its critics and has bankrupted the economy through its socialist economic policies to embrace democratic arrangements once again.
In a public address on March 10, Archbishop José Luis Azuaje of Maracaibo stated: “Today 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.” He went on to state that “structural changes are needed in politics, the economy and the leadership that go beyond ideological interests or to holding on to power at all costs.”