Monsignor Roberto Lückert, Archbishop of Coro, Falcón
state, and vice-president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference
(CEV), Thursday claimed that the US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Rice lied when she said that there were meetings with Venezuelan
bishops supporting her criticisms against President Hugo Chávez'
Government, Efe reported.
"This lady was way out of line when she said such things that are not true. This is a lie. I am the vice-president of the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference and I have never felt that we have been invited or asked for a hearing with the board of directors of the CEV to say what this lady claims," Monsignor Lückert said.
The prelate told local radio station Unión Radio that the CEV board of directors met recently, and "it has not talked about the fact that the US Ambassador to Venezuela (William Brownfield) or any other US official is concerned about us. I think this lady was very clumsy" to speak otherwise, Monsignor Lückert added.
On Wednesday, Rice claimed that the Venezuelan Catholic Church was "under fire" from President Chávez and that US officials have met with Venezuelan Catholic authorities.
Rice also said democracy is under attack in Venezuela. In this connection, Lückert stressed that Chávez is trying to impose in Venezuela a political system similar to that in place in Cuba, particularly in education.
"The concept of education being implemented is that of Cuba, which involves an outrage against the provisions set forth in the Constitution as to what education should be in a democratic country, namely a free and plural education," Lückert claimed.
Lückert has engaged in verbal clashes with Chávez. The prelate has even said he fears reprisals because of his criticisms against "the savage state-centered rule they are trying to impose in this country."
LOPEZ CASE HRW endorsed the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' call on Venezuela to release Leopoldo López.
LOPEZ CASE Without giving many details, Venezuelan Congress' Speaker Diosdado Cabello has claimed he saved opposition leader Leopoldo López's life, adding that there were no negotiations whatsoever days before the dissenter turned himself in to the Bolivarian National Guard earlier this year. "He (López) knew it (information about his possible assassination), too. Why did he turn himself in? He and his family were aware of that," said the legislator in an interview with daily newspaper El Universal.
HUMAN RIGHTS The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, expressed serious concern on Monday at the continued detention of Venezuelan opposition leader Leopoldo López, as well as more than 69 other people who were arrested in the context of public protests that took place across Venezuela over several months starting in February this year.