Venezuela’s opposition leader told Pope Francis that the government was violating basic democratic and human rights, just days before President Nicolas Maduro visits the Vatican.
“We Venezuelans are subject to repeated human rights violations, without the government bodies in charge of guaranteeing and protecting those rights taking action, and quite often they are actually parties to the abuses,” Henrique Capriles charged in a letter dated June 12.
Maduro was proclaimed the winner of Venezuela’s April 14 presidential elections by a 1.5% margin hours after polls closed, but Capriles has refused to concede, saying the elections were stolen.
An audit of the results found no flaws in the snap vote to replace the late Hugo Chavez, the head of the National Electoral Commission reported on Tuesday.
When he learned Maduro would travel to Rome for a UN meeting and to meet with the Argentine pope, Capriles said he would send Francis a report on the tense political situation in Venezuela.
Capriles charged that Maduro’s government was violating rights, and undermining people’s faith in democracy. “A real democracy does not just arise from technically respecting the rules; it has to grow out of popular belief that the values that inspire democratic processes are being upheld,” Capriles wrote in his letter.
Maduro’s government is seeking to impose a “collectivist venture” disregarding democratic values, since it “makes everything conditional upon one’s acceptance of what the government calls ‘building socialism,’” Capriles charged.
In April, the first Latin American-born pontiff urged Venezuela’s government and opposition to work on a dialogue after post-election violence claimed at least 10 lives and left dozens injured.
Meanwhile, the Catholic Church’s top representative in Venezuela says Pope Francis should pressure President Nicolas Maduro to focus on the promotion of democracy and peaceful coexistence as ways to ease tensions sparked by the South American country’s political and economic crisis.
Cardinal Jorge Urosa said in a interview yesterday with commercial TV broadcaster Globovision that he hopes the pontiff persuades Maduro during their scheduled meeting today at the Vatican to cease his verbal attacks against political rivals and critics.
Maduro frequently insults his opponents, accusing them of attempting to undermine his government. Adversaries accuse Maduro of using authoritarian tactics aimed at weakening the opposition movement following his razor-thin victory over challenger Henrique Capriles in an April 14 presidential vote.