(Photo: Andrew Medichini – AP)
Many of us have praised Pope Francis for his humbleness and for his tolerance for victims of discrimination who had long been neglected by the Vatican, but it’s time to tell him loud and clear: Get out of Venezuela.
The Vatican’s mediation effort in Venezuela has been — to use a word much in vogue in Washington these days — a disaster. It has legitimized that country’s authoritarian ruler Nicolas Maduro, throwing him a lifeline when millions of protesters were demanding his resignation on the streets in October 2016. And it has helped him get back on his feet by further cracking down on the opposition.
Several interviews with Venezuelan opposition leaders and Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General Luis Almagro this week convinced me that the Vatican’s mediation, and the opposition coalition’s failure to officially suspend it, have become the biggest obstacles for a solution to Venezuela’s political and economic crisis.
The Vatican’s mediation alongside that of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) — a group that has done virtually nothing but defend populist demagogues in the hemisphere — has failed to result in any action when Maduro didn’t release Leopoldo Lopez and other prominent political prisoners, and as he has increased the overall number of political prisoners from 83 last year to 108 today, according to the Foro Penal research group’s figures.
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