Last year, the Archbishop of Barquisimeto, Monsignor Antonio López Castillo, made a stinging attack on the government during the annual procession of the Divina Pastora, my hometown’s patron saint. The procession is a huge event here, the center of the Guaro religious (and, these days, political) calendar.

Monsignor López Castillo’s homily set off a huge beef with Nicolás Maduro. The fact that military exercises were scheduled for that same day didn’t help.

This year, the Archbishop came back with backup for round two. He asked la Pastora to “deliver us from hunger and corruption” and the Bishop of San Felipe, Monsignor Victor Hugo Basabe, had strong words during mass after the procession. He sent a message to the young Venezuelans who want to go abroad for a better life:

It’s not you kids who should leave. If there’s anyone who has to leave Venezuela it’s the people responsible for this disaster that we’ve been driven into, if anyone has to leave it’s the one responsible for thousands of children who crossed the limits of severe malnourishment.

Well, Nicolás Maduro used his annual speech to respond and asked that both clergymen be investigated for “hate crimes.” That’s right. Using the same Anti-Hate Law passed on November and already put into action this month.

Just hours later, Archbishop López Castillo rejected Maduro’s threats in a press conference: “We believe in justice, we believe in truth and we believe in peace.” Bishop Basabe went even further: “I’m not afraid, Mr. Maduro. Cowardice is not my thing.”

He also said that Maduro lied scandalously about his words and reaffirmed what he said in his homily.

The new leadership of the Venezuelan Bishops Conference (CEV) came to defend their fellow bishops: from Bishop of Barinas Jose Luis Azuaje and Bishop of San Cristobal Mario Moronta, Chairman and First Vice-Chairman of the CEV respectively. Another voice of solidarity was Cardinal Baltazar Porras, Archbishop of Mérida. The full radio interview with Porras (in RCR’s “La Fuerza es la Union”) starts here at 31:45.

And if that wasn’t enough, the Episcopal Conference later released a strong statement:

In a country that wishes to live in peace and reconciliation, that longs for a hopeful future instead of permanent condemn and threats simply for disagreeing with official conduct and judgement, we need rulers with enough integrity to treat all citizens with the same standards, and apply to themselves the laws that are applied to others.

Days before the procession, the CEV held its annual conference in Caracas and in its final document accused the dramatic situation in the country, from government policies that drive citizens to State dependency, to the desperate exodus of Venezuelans. They asked for a humanitarian channel and new conditions for talks between government and opposition.

Back at the Divina Pastora, the biggest highlight of that Sunday, beside the bishops’ words, was an incident in the Venezuela Avenue near the end of the event.

A special stage was built for military authorities so they could watch the procession, but some unhappy fellas threw orange peels at them, forcing them to leave early.

Mere hours later, we had news of two surprising non-working days in Lara State, given “the devotion shown by larenses” during the weekend. A creative excuse to hide our public transportation problems.

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13 COMMENTS

  1. “This year, the Archbishop came back with backup for round two. He asked la Pastora to “deliver us from hunger and corruption”

    Hopefully this year the Divina Pastora will get it right. Perhaps last year she misunderstood the prayers as “deliver us more hunger and corruption”.

  2. What will the Pope say about this?
    I suspect that his response will be rather different from what the two previous Popes would have said.

  3. Something’s gotta give, and soon, this can’t keep going.

    Sardines we sold for 48,000 bs last week, 90,000 bs today.

    Tip-Top Cookies we sold for 3,000 bs last week, 6,000 bs today.

    Cheez-Tris we sold for 15,000 bs last week, 25,000 bs today.

    Those are just a few examples. For those products that can still be found, prices are now doubling weekly.

    I told the woman last week that we need to stock only 3 items: Food, Medicines, and Vices. Nothing else can be sold right now without losing your shirt and even then I’ll probably still lose my shirt.

  4. Can the lack of protests be explained by the hope that Maduro will fall when the economy totally fails? Good article about Venezuelan inflation by our leader, Mr Toro, in today’s Washington Post.

  5. https://www.bloomberg.com/gadfly/articles/2018-01-18/venezuela-s-oil-production-collapse-bad-news-worse-news

    Venezuela Has Some Bad News and Some Really Bad News
    The country’s oil production has collapsed; the only question is just how badly.
    By Liam Denning
    January 18, 2018, 11:01 AM CST

    (cut to the meat of the article)

    “Equally, though, new leaders inheriting bad situations have an incentive to kitchen-sink the figures in the hopes of gaining credit for subsequent stabilization. Francisco Monaldi, a fellow in Latin American energy policy at Rice University’s Baker Institute, says Quevedo appeared on television on Sunday claiming production had collapsed to 1.5 million barrels a day but was already recovering to almost 1.9 million. Monaldi adds that he still hears the collapse is “massive” but also suspects figures for January might show slight improvement, especially as Baker Hughes reported an increase in the number of rigs operating there that month, up from 40 to 50.

    As so often, the truth likely lies somewhere in between those two figures that OPEC published. What is clear is that, as I wrote here, Venezuela’s suffering aids its fellow members in their efforts to take supply off the market.

    Taking the midpoint of the two figures and comparing it to the supply cuts agreed in late 2016, Venezuela’s compliance level is now above 400 percent. Factoring in the wildcards of Libya and Nigeria, OPEC’s net cut versus the baseline agreement stood at around 910,000 barrels a day in December. Venezuela accounted for four out of every 10 of them. The rally in oil prices owes something to economic growth, OPEC’s maneuvering, and speculative zeal. Increasingly, it also rests on sheer misery in this one corner of the world.”

    ~~~~~~~~

    OPEC thanks the government of Venezuela for their assistance in increasing the barrel price of oil by unilaterally taking it in the shorts for the rest of them. Gracias!

  6. There’s an important lesson that we should all never forget:

    Nothing the Vatican, UN or OAS says or does makes any difference anywhere in the world.

    Ever.

  7. “What will the Pope say about this”?

    PanchoPope will soon come over and visit Maduro in Caracas’s Carcass, take some nice pictures hugging Masburro and Cabello under Chavez’s huge portrait, bless la Virgen Coromoto and the Bolibanana Revolution, and then leave saying “robaos – uhum.. cough-cough – amaos los unos a los otros”.

    Much like he did in Cuba not long ago with the Castros, in Che Guevara’s glorious Plaza Habanera.

    Soon after, President Oprah Winfrey and other presidents will also visit perennial president Masburro, while opening up trade and new embassies in Klepto-Cubazuela.

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