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Mexican bishop considers life sentence for 'El Chapo' to be just

Chilpancingo, Mexico, Jul 18, 2019 / 11:01 pm (CNA).- The bishop of one of Mexico's most violent areas has said that Wednesday's sentencing of drug lord Joaquín Guzmán Loera to life in prison plus 30 years is proper and prudent.

Guzmán, known as “El Chapo”, is a fomer head of the Sinaloa Cartel. He was sentenced July 17 by a judge in New York, after having been found guilty of 10 charges, including drug trafficking and money laundering.

“I believe there is justice by God and human justice,” Bishop Salvador Rangel Mendoza of Chilpancingo-Chilapa told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency.

“I believe he was properly judged. I have more confidence in American laws than Mexican, and I believe that they judged it to be prudent to give him life in prison plus 30 years,” Bishop Rangel stated.

Guzmán's sentence “is the fruit of the criminal acts he committed, and in particular I believe this should help many other criminals to see that sooner or later they will have to face justice and the we all have to answer for the evil deeds we have done,” the bishop said.

“I believe it's a just sentence given to that man and especially so it's an example for everyone else.”

“Hopefully this will also rein in crime a bit here in Mexico,” he added.

Guzmán had been captured by Mexican authorities in 2014, but escaped from a maximum security prison in July 2015. He was re-captured in Junary 2016, and extradited to the US in 2017.

In addition to his prison sentence, Guzmán was also ordered to pay $12.6 billion in forfeiture.

The Department of Justice said that the drug trafficker's trial brought out the methods used by the Sinaloa Cartel to transport tons of drugs to the United States as well as the violence the organization  “relied on to maintain its power throughout the region and beyond.”

Mexico faces much violent crime, often related to drug trafficking. According to the Citizen Council for Public Safety and Criminal Justice, 15 of the 50 most violent cities in the world during 2018 were in Mexico.

According to the Mexican daily El Universal, the first six months of 2019 have been the most violent on record in Mexico's history.

Bishop Rangel lamented that “the circumstances in Mexico are very tough. I believe what does the most harm is the corruption in the different levels of government, as well as in society itself, in business.”

“In the end, what's predominating is political and economic expediency, and I believe these criminal gangs will hardly go away as long as we don't get to the root of the problem: for example, the lack of opportunities in education and the economy,” he said.

For the Mexican prelate it is critical “to remake the social fabric, which has unraveled for us. And this, as we know, can only be achieved on the basis of principles and values.”

“We must shore up values within the family, the school, society, the Church. We must all aim at those values, because unfortunately we have generations lacking those values.”

After noting the violence with which organized crime tortures and murders it victims, Bishop Rangel stated that “we must teach them that we must love life, respect it, and care for it.”

Amid political uncertainty, Haitian bishops announce year of prayer

Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jul 15, 2019 / 12:01 pm (CNA).- The Catholic bishops of Haiti have announced a year of prayer and adoration for the country, which continues to face heightened tensions and instability amid calls for President Jovenel Moise to resign.

“The misery has become so sharp and the insecurity so destabilizing that the tree of hope has been torn from the ground,” the Haitian Bishops’ Conference said, according to Vatican News.

For months, protests have rocked the impoverished nation, following an official audit report finding billions of dollars missing from a government program intended to benefit low-income Haitian residents.

The 600-page report, released May 31, implicates the three most recent presidential administrations in serious financial corruption.

The controversy centers around the PetroCaribe program, created by Venezuela before its economic collapse, through which it lent oil to nearby countries, with payments deferred for up to 25 years.

Haiti, the poorest country in the region, joined the program in 2006. The money it saved was intended to be invested in infrastructure, social programs, and heath care projects.

However, the audit report found $2 billion missing, leaving taxpayers indebted to Venezuela and lacking the benefits that had been promised to them through the program, according to Time Magazine.

The report suggests that Moise embezzled funds before he took office in 2017, including $1 million received for the paving of a rural road that was paid for twice, the Miami Herald reports.

Moise has denied wrongdoing and says he will not resign from office before his term expires in three years.

Protests have turned violent, with schools and businesses shutting down, and roadblocks impairing the distribution of food, water, and medication.

Faced with this grim reality, the bishops of Haiti said that the upcoming year – which will last until the Feast of Pentecost on May 31, 2020 – will be dedicated to praying for hope and an eradication corruption in the country.

“Hasn't the Lord always listened to the voice of His people crying for him? Are we not his people, His flock?” they said in a communique, Vatican News reported.

Each diocese will organize specific events as part of the year of prayer and adoration.

The bishops called on the people of Haiti to pray, individually and in prayer groups over the coming year, seeking “to consecrate and restore to God the destiny of our country and our people.”

Chile ends statute of limitations for sex crimes with underage victims

Santiago, Chile, Jul 13, 2019 / 03:49 pm (CNA).- Chile has removed the statute of limitation on sex crimes against children and adolescents, though the new law is not retroactive. The move comes in the wake of major controversies about abusive Catholic clergy and attempts at reform in the Catholic Church in Chile.

“Beginning today, the passing of time will never more be an accomplice to those who abuse our children, nor an ally of impunity,” said Chile’s President Sebastian Pinera, a center-right politician who signed the bill into law July 11.

The bill was first proposed in 2010, Reuters reports. Going forward, there will be no statute of limitations on rape, sexual abuse, production of pornographic materials and prostitution where children and adolescents are the victims.

Depending on the crime, previous limitations on prosecution ranged from five to 10 years after the alleged incident.

In 2017, there were 22,540 total complaints about sexual abuse where children or teenagers were the main victims, figures from Chile’s state prosecutors said, according to Agence Presse France.

Chile’s public ministry has said it is currently investigating more than 150 allegations of sexual abuse or cover-up involving the Catholic Church.

The Chilean bishops’ conference on April 30 signed a collaboration agreement with public prosecutors to streamline the investigation of sexual abuse by clergy.

When bishops receive an accusation of abuse they must deliver evidence to prosecutors within 24 hours. The agreement is meant “to facilitate the exchange of information concerning past, present, and future investigations of delicts of a sexual nature committed by diocesan clerics against children, adolescents, or persons with disabilities.”

In March 2019 the Santiago archdiocese accepted a Chilean court ruling that the Catholic Church in the country must compensate victims of former priest and serial sex abuser Fernando Karadima. The archdiocese voiced hope that the ruling can help restore trust and prevent further mishandling of abuse, “because it points directly to the errors that we made in this case.”

The court unanimously ruled that the Church owed “moral damages” to Karadima’s victims Juan Carlos Cruz, Jose Andres Murillo, and James Hamilton, and must pay them $146,000 each, the Associated Press reported.

The court ruling cited “negligence” in the Church’s official investigation of abuse reports, saying church authorities “discarded” the reports instead of considering whether they had elements of truth.

The Santiago archbishop’s office said it would not appeal the decision, saying the ruling “marks an important step in our process of re-establishing justice and trust in our Church of Santiago, because it points directly to the errors that we made in this case.”

Efforts to change the time limits on prosecutions had support from Karadima’s victims, but also drew supporters outraged over the 2018 rape and murder of a 20-month-old infant girl by a family member.

Although Karadima was not charged under civil law due to statutes of limitations, he was found guilty in 2011 of sexual abuse of minors by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. At that time he was sentenced to a life of penance and prayer, and barred from any public exercise of ministry. Pope Francis dismissed Karadima from the clerical state in September 2018.

The former priest, who is now in his late eighties, has denied the accusations of sexual abuse. For decades he led a lay movement from his Santiago-area parish. He is considered to have personally fostered around 40 vocations to the priesthood, including several priests who have become bishops.

Karadima’s abuse became the focus of attention in Chile after the 2015 appointment of one of his protégés, Bishop Juan de la Cruz Barros Madrid to a new position as Bishop of Osorno. Barros, who had previously headed the Military Ordinariate of Chile, had been accused of covering up his mentor’s abuses.

Pope Francis initially defended Barros, saying he had received no evidence of the bishop’s guilt.  He called accusations against the bishop “calumny” during a trip to Chile in January.

He later sent Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta to investigate the situation in Chile. After receiving Scicluna’s report, the pope apologized, said that he had been seriously mistaken, and asked to meet the country’s bishops and some abuse victims in person.

In May 2018, the pope met with Chile’s bishops. He rebuked them for systemic cover-up of clerical abuse and called on them to make deep changes. He asked all of them to offer their resignations, to be accepted or rejected later. The bishops did so the following day. Pope Francis has accepted the resignations of several of the bishops.

Venezuelan bishops ask Maduro to step down, allow election of new president

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 12, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The Venezuelan bishops asked Thursday that president Nicolas Maduro resign from the office which he “illegitimately” exercises and that a new president be elected in the shortest time possible.

“In face of the reality of an illegitimate and failed government, Venezuela is crying out for a change of direction, a return to the Constitution. That change demands the departure of the one exercising power illegitimately and the election in the shortest possible time of a new president of the republic,” the bishops said in their July 11 apostolic exhortation, released at the end of their general assembly.

Under Maduro's socialist administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages of food and medicine, high unemployment, and hyperinflation. More than 4 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015.

The bishops cited a July 4 report from the UN human rights commissioner which said the government has committed a variety of human rights abuses, including a high number of extrajudicial killings.

The bishops maintained that “examples of these violations of the rule of law are the recent actions by state agencies which led to the death of Light Cruiser Captain Rafael Acosta Arévalo and young Rufo Chacón's loss of his sight, incidents that have already been strongly condemned by the Justice and Peace Commission.”

They also pointed to “the exodus of more than 12% of the Venezuelan population” due to “the political situation, the impoverishment of the middle class, and contempt for the poor.”

Faced with this crisis, with the moral deterioration of society, violence, lies, corruption, irresponsibility and despair, the bishops reiterated that a profound change is necessary that requires the departure of the current regime and that a new president be elected.

They added that for the elections to be free, indispensable conditions are “a new, impartial National Electoral Council,” international oversight; and the end of the Constituent Assembly, among other measures.

They also called for the entry and distribution of food and medicine to attend to the population, hard-hit for several years by shortages. They said that the Church, through its institutions, “ renews its commitment to participate, along with other organizations, in the reception and distribution of this humanitarian aid.”

The bishops reminded the armed forces, police, and public ministry of their duty “to work in conformity with justice and truth and not at the service of a political bias.”

They said that in order to contribute to national renewal “we reiterate our commitment as a Church to continue to strengthen faith in Jesus Christ who heals and liberates, and bringing hope to our people, through the development of training and organizational programs that will enable the defense of human rights , the recovery of democratic institutions, and the peaceful reconstruction of the country.”

The bishops thanked the priests, religious, and laity who are working hard “to maintain a living hope and to take the evangelization of the Venezuelan to a deeper level,” as well as to serve the most vulnerable.

Finally, they reiterated their call to continue to pray for Venezuela and to “work with confidence for the welfare of our country. God is our help! We ask the intercession of Our Lady of Coromoto for this noble cause.”

Maduro was sworn in for a second term as president Jan. 10, after winning a contested election in which oppositon candidates were barred from running or imprisoned. Venezuela's bishops have called his new term illegitimate, and Juan Guaidó, head of the opposition-controlled legislature the National Assembly, declared himself interim president Jan. 23.

Guaidó has been recognized by a number of Western governments, but has been largely unable to secure the support of Venezuela's military. He has pledged a transitional government and free elections.

Colombian bishop to bless entire city to counter violence

Buenaventura, Colombia, Jul 11, 2019 / 04:18 pm (CNA).- Bishop Rubén Darío Jaramillo Montoya of Buenaventura will perform blessings throughout his cathedral city Saturday, hoping to counter it's extreme violence, including kidnappings and murders.

Buenaventura is Colombia's main port on the Pacific, and so is a key point in the international drug trade.

In recent years, Human Rights Watch has said the city's neighborhoods are controlled by “paramilitary successor groups” which engage in extortion and violence.

Bishop Jaramillo had originally shared the idea of performing a blessing on the city from a helicopter. The news has been erroneously reported by some media as an exorcism.

The Bishop of Buenaventura told ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, July 10 that the blessing will be done July 13, but not from a helicopter.

“We are going to form a line of vehicles with a firetruck and a statue of Saint Bonaventure. We're going to go to all locations, to the most difficult neighborhoods where people have been killed in recent years,” he explained.

The caravan and the people who will be waiting throughout the city “will form a people who are going to reinterpret those places of death so they will now be places of life,” Jaramillo said.

At every place the caravan stops, the bishop will offer a prayer, there will be a hymn, and the community will gather together to hear a testimony. “We're going to pray for the victims and to then do a blessing,” he said.

“Where blood flowed, where blood was shed, we are now going to pour holy water as a sign of reparation at the place where those who died were struck down by violence,” the bishop stated.

Last month, the prelate told Agenzia Fides, “we've had 54 violent deaths so far this year, but there are a lot of people who have disappeared. And people don't report it. The problem is there is still not a culture of reporting because there is fear, we have a society that is afraid to report.”

The bishop also denounced the existence of so-called “torture chambers” or “chop-up houses” where people who were kidnapped are tortured and killed because they got in the way of or did not support gangs and organized crime, something thought to have disappeared in 2015.

Cardinal expresses concern as conditions worsen in Venezuela

Merida, Venezuela, Jul 9, 2019 / 10:01 pm (CNA).- Cardinal Baltazar Enrique Porras Cardozo said Monday that conditions in Venezuela continue to deteriorate under the country's socialist government.

“We are living in an exceptional and unheard-of situation, which is not the result of war, nor of any armed conflict, or any natural catastrophe, and yet which is having similar consequences. The political regime that is running Venezuela has broken the country and has generated an atmosphere of social conflict that is steadily growing worse,” Cardinal Porras, Archbishop of Mérida and Apostolic Administrator of Caracas, told the pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need July 8.

Under the socialist administration of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages of food and medicine, high unemployment, and hyperinflation. More than 4 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015.

“People are leaving on account of their economic situation and because of their political ideas, while others are doing so on account of the harassment and repression in the country, whose economic system is now practically ruined,” the cardinal reflected.

“There is absolutely no security under the law. At the same time there is no work and no proper healthcare, there is no possibility for people of bringing home even the minimum to support their family.”

Earlier this year, opposition leader Juan Guaidó, head of the opposition-controlled legislature the National Assembly, declared himself interim president of Venezuela, saying Maduro's victory in a contested 2018 election was invalid. Guaidó has been recognized by a number of Western governments, but has been largely unable to secure the support of Venezuela's military.

The National Assembly has been superseded by the pro-government Constituent Assembly, formed in 2017 after contested elections.

Porras said that negotiations held in Oslo between the government and the opposition are “an opportunity to discover if there is any will to restore democracy, which has for now been totally sidelined in this country.”

He reflected that “over the past 20 years, when the government found itself in difficulties, it frequently called for dialogue. But these appeals were only made in order to 'paper over the cracks', because the government had no real desire to negotiate sincerely, or to concede anything at all. Given this situation, a large proportion of the population have lost all trust and belief in the idea of dialogue.”

Last week, a UN report said the government has committed a variety of human rights abuses, including a high number of extrajudicial killings.

The cardinal said: “We are deeply concerned at the fact that in the last year the number of people who have been arrested, tortured, murdered or 'disappeared' has been growing and that those involved in these actions include not only high-ranking members of the military, but also some members of the pro-government popular classes.”

He charged that Maduro's government can only control the Venezuelan people “through fear, and by deliberately provoking fuel, food and energy shortages.”

Both “public and private institutions have been destroyed,” Porras said, “and the only institution remaining is the Church.”

“This is thanks to our closeness to the people and to our presence at every level of society,” he stated, adding that the Church “has had the courage to point out the defects of this regime.”

As a result of this, Catholic schools are restricted, and its institutions face “verbal threats and harassment.”

“The parishes are attacked by the government, by the communal councils and the so-called 'colectivos', pro-government popular groups. For example, in Caracas, the members of these groups stand at the church doors and listen to what the priest says in his homilies, and if they don’t like it, then the threats begin,” the cardinal stated.

Porras said that the Church in Venezuela is “profoundly grateful to ACN, not only for your material support, but for the spiritual closeness expressed by you, above all through prayer.”

Nicaraguan cardinal calls on OAS to speak with victims of nation's crisis

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 9, 2019 / 02:19 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Managua asked Sunday that the Organization of American States dialogue with the victims of Nicaragua's sociopolitical crisis.

The continental organization adopted a resolution last month that it will make diplomatic efforts to resolve the Nicaraguan crisis. It also emphasized the importance of resuming dialogue between the government and opposition, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, and called for human rights inspectors to be admitted.

Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano said that “I hope that the people who are going to be sent, can speak not only with the great leaders, but that they come down to the grassroots,” following a July 7 Mass at Managua's Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

He urged in particular that OAS officials speak to the poor.

"That would be my request, that they talk with everyone, especially with those of us who are always here,” Cardinal Brenes stated.

“We all speak about peace, but everyone has a very different concept. We have to discover what is the peace that the Lord proposes to us: a peace that leads you to concord, breaks with enmities, leads you to the truth. It is based on love,” he said.

He also pointed out that the Church has always considered that demonstrations must be peaceful, civil, without violence or attacks. “What's important is to express our ideas with strong arguments. Protests are accepted by the Church as long as they are peaceful,” Cardinal Brenes said.

Anti-government protests in Nicaragua began in April 2018. They have resulted in more than 320 deaths, and the country’s bishops mediated on-again, off-again peace talks until they broke down that June.

A new round of dialogue began in February, but the opposition has made the timely release of all protesters a condition of its resumption.

Nicaragua’s crisis began last year after president Daniel Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega’s authoritarian bent.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

The Church had suggested that elections, which are not scheduled until 2021, be held this year, but Ortega has ruled this out.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

Dominican Republic families demonstrate against gender ideology in education

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 9, 2019 / 01:58 pm (CNA).- Families in the Dominican Republic joined together July 4 for a national civic demonstration to protest a new Department of Education norm that establishes policies based on gender ideology.

The demonstration, held simultaneously at 10:00 a.m. in Santo Domingo and Santiago, was called by the “Don't Mess with My Children” movement to demand the repeal of departmental order 33-2019, approved May 22, 2019.

The new Department of Education norm “establishes as a priority the design and implementation of gender policy” in “the different levels, systems and subsystems in Pre-University Education, in their plans, programs, projects, teaching strategies and administrative activities.”

In a news release addressed to the media, organizers said that thousands attended the demonstrations, including families, schools, parents' associations and Christian institutions who wanted “to warn about the systematic and organized penetration of gender ideology in the Dominican Republic.”

They charged that “this current has permeated many of the government's institutions, where they hold talks with titles of tolerance, equality and inclusion that look very attractive, but deep down are loaded with gender ideology.”

“Clear evidence is the Department of Education's manifesto with the initiative they launched to achieve a perspective on gender in teaching,” they said.

The news release noted that “the term gender was first defined by the Department with the announcement of OD33-2019 as a social construct different than sex, which is the philosophical premise of gender ideology.”

They also called for the repeal of the norm, saying that it has “the clear intention of initiating pre-university students in gender ideology indoctrination.”

Bishop Víctor Masalles of Baní voiced on Twitter his “complete support for the civic demonstration by parents concerned that their children not be indoctrinated in a background of gender ideology.”

“A valid concern that we must support,” he said July 4.

On May 28, the Dominican Bishops' Conference released a statement opposing the Education Department's new norm.

“We consider it noxious that the gender policy is included in the design of the curriculum,” they said.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


Venezuelan bishops condemn death of naval captain while in custody

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 8, 2019 / 06:01 pm (CNA).- The Venezuelan bishops' justice and peace commission have condemned the death in custody of Rafael Acosta Arévalo, a naval captain who was arrested over an alleged assassination plot against president Nicolas Maduro.

Acosta's lawyer alleges the officer had been tortured while in custody. Two members of Venezuela's military counterintelligence agency have been charged in relation to Acosta's death.

The bishops also protested that police had allegedly disfigured and left blind Rufo Chacón Parada, a youth, as he was demonstrating about the lack supplies in the country.

“The Venezuelan state is responsible. We will not consent to the manipulation, dissimulation and downplaying of these grave incidents,” the bishops' justice and peace commission stated July 4.

“It is our commitment as a Church, which sees in the suffering faces of the relatives and those of the victims the suffering of Our Lord Jesus Christ. These two victims represent today the cries of many other citizens who have been subjected to the same patterns and whose cases have been blacked out.”

The bishops said that “the forced disappearance, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, excesses committed by the police … against Venezuelans are practices that have taken hold in the military and police corps, and are occurring on an ongoing basis, like a secret that cries out in our consciences.”

“This immoral, ignoble and dishonorable conduct is an attack on the dignity of the person and violates the conventions and treaties signed by the republic which directly makes responsible those officials that order, apply or tolerate this conduct or are able to prevent it, and do not do so,” they added.

In the case of Chacón “the disproportionate use of force once again leaves indelible consequences on this family: a young bachelor who is now blind, disfigured, and with no desire to live, a traumatized mother who in addition to life's basic rights being denied her, that of protesting, of complaining, of finding unacceptable this fragile existence which we have been subjected to by government mismanagement. Silence is not an option in face of so much outrage,” the bishops said.

The bishops demanded that Acosta's case be investigated “in accordance with the international standards and protocols related to cases of torture and not as a simple criminal investigation. That includes conducting a proper autopsy in accordance with law and with independent experts and adequately preserving the entire body of evidence.”

The bishops noted that the men charged in relation to Acosta's death, Lt Ascanio Tarascio and Sgt Estiben Zarate, are 22 and 23, and asked: “This is the generation the armed forces are passing the baton to? Who taught these young men how to do so much harm to their brothers? What are the responsibilities of their superiors in the chain of command in these institutions?”

They emphasized that “these young perpetrators are also victims of a system that has allowed this moral and spiritual degradation in our county.”

Acosta was captured by Venezuela's Directorate General of Military Counterintelligence June 21, and he was later listed as among 14 Venezuelans arrested for participation in an alleged assassination plot.

Acosta appeared in a wheelchair before a military tribunal June 28, but collapsed before proceedings began. He died the following day in a military hospital.

Under Maduro's socialist administration, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages and hyperinflation. More than 4 million Venezuelans have emigrated since 2015.

Chilean diocese announces solidarity campaign for migrants at border

Arica, Chile, Jul 3, 2019 / 12:03 am (CNA).- The migration ministry in the Diocese of Arica, Chile has announced an aid campaign for the hundreds of migrants facing desperate conditions at a border crossing in the northern part of the country.

The diocese pledged to “redouble our efforts in this humanitarian emergency we are experiencing now.”

While Catholic institutions are present along the border and are providing humanitarian aid, the Diocese of Arica said more is needed to alleviate the crisis. It encouraged donations of bottled water, diapers and wipes, fruit juice and milk. Donations are being collected at San Marcos School in Arica.

The diocese also warned that the migrants are receiving insufficient medical care and face poor sanitary conditions. It noted “an increase in respiratory illnesses because of the difference between the daytime desert heat and the nighttime cold. They have gotten sick again and again without the hope of being able to continue their journey.”

An estimated 200 migrants - mostly Venezuelans fleeing a severe economic crisis - are currently stranded at the Chacalluta border crossing between Chile and Peru, Reuters reported recently.

Many of the migrants were turned away from entering Chile due to failure to meet stricter legal requirements that were recently enacted.

Chile recently imposed stricter controls on those entering its territory, as the number of Venezuelan emigrants swells. Facing violence, social upheaval and hyperinflation under Venezuela’s socialist government, more than 4 million people have fled the country since 2015.

Some 1.3 million Venezuelan emigrants are currently living in Colombia, and some 800,000 are in Peru.

On June 22, Chile enacted a policy requiring immigrants to have a passport and visa, proof of money to support their stay, and a hotel reservation or letter of invitation from a resident.

Last year, new residency requirements were introduced, including a temporary residency visa, valid for one year and renewable for the same period, a clean criminal record, and other identifying documents.

Peru has also moved to restrict the flow of migrants. The nation mandated June 15 that Venezuelans must have a passport and visa to enter the country; previously, only a national ID card was needed.

The Diocese of Arica argued that a solution to the crisis can only be found by addressing the complexity of the underlying issues and approaching migrants with a sense of accompaniment.

“The situation of the mostly Venezuelan migrants now held up on the Chilean border is certainly not going to be resolved by simply allowing or barring their entry,” the diocese said in its statement. “That's only the first step in a complex process which requires accompaniment and solidarity.”

“If a Venezuelan family succeeds in entering our country, that will be the first step in a new life from being uprooted from their country to another where there is no certainty that their basic needs and assimilation would be guaranteed,” said the Vicar General of the Diocese of San Marcos in Arica, Fr. Mauricio Cáceres.


This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.