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INTERVIEW EXCERPTS / Rosalio Castillo Lara labels elections as "mockery"

CARDINAL CASTILLO LARA: VENEZUELA IS UNDER DICTATORSHIP

The cardinal invokes article 350 of the Venezuelan constitution and urges to disavow the "most ominous government Venezuela has ever had." However, "I am not the most indicated person to say how to do it," he concedes

ROBERTO GIUSTI

SPECIAL ARTICLE FOR EL UNIVERSAL

Rosalio Cardinal Castillo Lara is the incarnation of the saying that goes "while you pray for a miracle, do what you can to help yourself." Firstly, "pray God to free us from this scourge," he advises. Secondly, upfront, "this is the most ominous government Venezuela has ever had." Finally, the action -disavowal of the government under article 350 of the Venezuelan chart.

Q: President Hugo Chávez claimed that he had warned the Venezuelan nuncio, with respect to a paper issued on the occasion of the regular meeting of the Conference of Catholic Bishops, that Venezuelan bishops are detached from reality and unwilling to accept it.

A: Absolutely. I think that most thoughtful Venezuelans are reluctant to accept this reality. I fully agree with him. Now, therefore, his opinion shows that he failed to read the bishops' message -a nicely drafted and cohesive one based on a call for reconciliation, peace and harmony. But for these purposes, all existing deviations should be acknowledged and corrected.

Q: Do you think that all in all, there is still rule of the law in Venezuela?

A: Let me laugh. A long time ago, I have said that there is neither democracy nor rule of the law. This is just varnished democracy. The laws approved by a feeble majority, but majority in any case, against the constitution, according to which qualified majority should approve organic laws, do not represent justice or law, but the way to an oppressive end. This reminds me of the psalm where Jesus reproves those who abuse in the name of law. Therefore, we are under unfair laws.

Q: Do you mean "dictatorship" by "oppressive end"?

A: Certainly. I am convinced of dictatorship here. Before Chávez' election, I told President (Rafael) Caldera that he was a dangerous man, a fledgling dictator. And he, from the very beginning, as appears from his expression and action, showed that his project was based on dictatorship.

Q: There have been many kinds of dictatorship in history.

A: I make reference to dictatorship as despotic and arbitrary use of power focused on one single person.

Q: However, the president told the nuncio "no government in Venezuela but the Bolivarian government has been as close as ever to the mandate of savior Christ."

A: (Laugh) First of all, he hits a target. Rather than favoring the poor, he seeks power concentration. It is clear that the underprivileged are not the recipients of missions (social welfare programs), because charity keeps, perpetuates, poverty. Therefore, he resorts to a mistaken concept by proclaiming obedience to Christ's mandate. On the opposite, I think that his is the most ominous government Venezuela has ever had since the establishment of the republic.

Q: Don't you think that elections may be an effective political outcome?

A: Elections should be a democratic way to solve such situation. But there is need for a reliable institution responsible for holding elections, and the National Electoral Council (CNE) is not reliable at all. The opposite, it has been fraudulent, counter to the voting organic law. A false majority was created for the recall referendum. In this regard, there will be no elections, but a mockery organized by the state. Who is to trust such a CNE?

Translated by Conchita Delgado



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