Hope for a peaceful new beginning in Venezuela

In spite of hints of conflicts within the Venezuelan leadership following the death of President Hugo Chávez, there are hopeful signs of a peaceful new beginning, according to Rafael D'Aqui, Latin America representative of the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN).

Mr. D’Aqui commented: "There appear to be differences among Chávez' supporters. Vice-President Nicolás Maduro, a civilian named as Chávez' successor, is aiming at taking power, as is the Speaker of the National Assembly, Diosdado Cabello, a member of the military."

Rafael D´Àqui"Within the 'Revolutionary Government' a civilian will certainly be more warmly received,” Mr. D’Aqui continued. “Maduro will probably attempt to continue to advance the 'Cuban model' aimed at for Venezuela by Chávez."

The desire for stronger unity in the country is great. But D'Aqui does not expect any substantial changes after the possible, speedy new elections: "Vice-President Maduro is by no means seems as charismatic as Chávez was.”

“But the Government has a strong presence in the media because in Venezuela all the media are obliged by law to propagate regularly the Government's messages."

Venezuela's constitution empowers the Speaker of the National Assembly to lead the country in the event of a death. Contrary to the statutory provision, however, the Government announced after the President's death that Vice-President Maduro would conduct official business until new elections were held.

The Cardinal of Caracas, Archbishop Jorge Urosa Savino, who is currently in Rome, announced he would be celebrating a requiem for President Chávez. At the same time the Cardinal urged the Government of Venezuela to observe the constitutional provisions governing the procedure after the death of the President.

The archbishop also called on the people to remain calm and level-headed.

Cardinal Urosa and the Venezuelan Bishops' Conference had already asked Venezuelans to unite and pray for the family of the deceased immediately after Chávez' death.

Prior to this, at the start of Lent, the Cardinal had called on the faithful to pray for the seriously ill President, even though the Church had been repeatedly attacked by President Chávez.


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