ROME — A Venezuelan cardinal rejected the possibility of foreign intervention in the country following U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to pursue a military option.
“The crisis we Venezuelans are suffering is so serious that now an external problem arises: the threats of a military option by President Trump,” Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino of Caracas said.
The cardinal spoke August 13 after celebrating the 150th anniversary of the consecration of his archdiocese’s cathedral. He rejected the assertion that foreign military intervention could solve the crisis Venezuela is experiencing.
“I — and I am sure all the Venezuelan bishops — reject all foreign military interference, such as the Cuban one present for some time in Venezuela,” Urosa said, “and I do not agree with the threat of a military option.”
After a meeting Aug. 11 with Rex Tillerson, U.S. Secretary of State, Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations and H.R. McMaster, national security adviser, Trump told journalists that a military intervention was “certainly something that we could pursue.”
“Venezuela is a mess. It is a very dangerous mess and a very sad situation,” Trump said. “The people are suffering and they are dying. We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option if necessary.”
Elections for seats on a constituent assembly were held in Venezuela July 30 amid massive protests and international outcry. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s push for the assembly, comprised mainly of his supporters and designed to rewrite the nation’s constitution, has led to violent demonstrations in which more than 100 people have died.
Urosa called the election for the assembly, which can also rule by decree, “illegal.” Through their Twitter account, the bishops called on the Virgin Mary to free the country from the “claws of communism and socialism” after the vote.
Urosa said a foreign military intervention would not solve the real problem, which is a “social, political and economic crisis we suffer that is becoming more serious.
“The ones who must solve this current crisis are we Venezuelans and especially the government that created it,” the cardinal said.
In a statement released on August 4, the Vatican asked for Venezuela’s constitutional assembly to be suspended.
“The Holy See asks all the political actors, and particularly the Government, to guarantee the full respect of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the current Constitution,” the statement said, calling also for “the avoidance or suspension of ongoing initiatives such as the new constitutional assembly that, more than favoring reconciliation and peace, promote a climate of tension and confrontation and mortgage the future.”
Crux staff contributed to this report.