Ciudad Bolivar, Venezuela, (Monday, February 25, 2019, Gaudium Press) The Archbishop of Ciudad Bolívar warned Saturday of "very grave consequences" for the government of Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro after the destruction of humanitarian aid that entered the country.
Archbishop Ulises Antonio Gutiérrez Reyes said on Twitter Feb. 23 that "the crimes committed today, killing people on the borders with Brazil and Colombia and the destruction of humanitarian aid, sets up another scenario that will bring very grave consequences for the regime. Enough is enough."
Archbishop Gutiérrez also Tweeted Feb. 23 that "throughout Venezuela the great battle is waged today for dignity. Today is an historic day since the Venezuela we all want is reborn and nothing and no one is going to prevent it."
Under Maduro's administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages and hyperinflation leading millions of Venezuelans to emigrate.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president last month, arranged for aid shipments to Venezuela, but the humanitarian aid has been rejected by Maduro.
The Venezuelan military has placed large trucks and cargo containers on highways connecting Venezuela to Colombia and Brazil, whence the aid would enter. The New York Times reported that only one aid truck made it through Feb. 23, and that some supplies from Colombia were burned. The supply ship The Midnight Stone was stopped from reaching Venezuela with aid from Puerto Rico.
Four people have been killed in altercations between opposition protesters and Maduro loyalists since Friday.
Most of the Venezuelan military has remained loyal to Maduro, with only about 150 defections to the opposition.
Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristóbal de Venezuela called on "all the soldiers and police in the Name of God, to not even raise your voice, nor attack with armaments those who are trying to do good for all of Venezuela."
"That those who should be looking after everything concerning the well being of the people would have set fire to the cargo that is a symbol of the humanitarian aid from other countries and of the efforts of many men and women also from Venezuela is not just a sin of immorality, it's an act of inhumanity for which they will have to answer before God," Bishop Moronta said.
"To all those who have military or police authority, don't fire on the people, don't raise your voice against the people, don't forget that you also are the people, and if this means a lot to you, think also of your families, your neighbors and friends who are also suffering, don't let yourselves feel you're not part of the people. Respect, protect and dignify the people of Venezuela."
Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo of Mérida said on Twitter that "we commend to prayer the dead, the injured, and those detained in a senseless repression. Violence is the weapon of the heartless. May hatred not take hold in the hearts of Venezuelans."
He also asked that "God would bless our homeland and all those who are helping us."
Guaidó emphasized that the government he has headed since Jan. 23 on behalf of the National Assembly continues "to receive the support of the international community, which has been able to see, with their own eyes, how the usurping regime is violating the Geneva Protocol, where it clearly says that destroying humanitarian aid is a crime against humanity."