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Venezuela: Protest is not a crime, it is a right

Source: Fides

"Civil and peaceful protest is not a crime. It is a right! Its control cannot be an excessive repression," says the statement of the Bishops' Conference of Venezuela published yesterday.

Numerous demonstrations were held in the capital and in different cities in the country in which at least three people were killed.

According to international news agencies, a 17-year-old died in Caracas, a 23-year-old woman killed in San Cristobal and, a national guard died in the west of the country.

The Bishops’ statement, stresses: "Democracy is characterized, above all, by the respect and protection of citizens' rights. When the state (or the government) ignores them or does not respect them, it stops being a democratic State, loses legitimacy, because its function is to defend all citizens regardless of their political ideology. There are other factors that deny democracy, such as the concentration of public powers in the hands of a single power. This is the current situation in Venezuela."

The Bishops declare the Church's position: "Defending fundamental rights, life, freedom, health ... and other rights of citizens is a duty of every human being. It is also a right and duty of the Church and of all believers, because human and civil rights do not belong solely to the socio-political sphere, but also to the religious sphere."

"The Venezuelan Bishops Conference - concludes the statement - invites all citizens, believers in Christ and men and women of good will, to act according to conscience, according to the democratic principles and laws of the country, as well as to exercise the right to protest and publicly manifest in a responsible and peaceful manner."

Yesterday, according to the opposition, six million people demonstrated throughout the country, two and a half million in Caracas alone. The police intervened with tear gas to disperse the crowd and violent clashes were registered.