How do you see the situation in Venezuela?
It is a disturbing reality, which worsens with each passing day. When I leave the house I can see people rummaging in the trash. There has been an economic management with absolutely no criteria. There has been a huge devaluation of the currency, which has caused social and economic disorder.
Is the bishop's relationship with the Maduro government very tense?
When the bishops deal with social problems, they do not arise from a political and partisan point of view. What the bishops ask is respect for people ... The Church's position is very critical of the position of the government and the policies undertaken, and clearly addresses the social situation, poverty and hunger of the people.
What is the Church doing in facing poverty?
The bishops are in the midst of the people, there in the neighborhoods is the Church, the priests who stand with the people and suffer with them. We have been called "devils with cassocks", "troglodytes" ... For us it is not a problem to be insulted, because we are a critical conscience ...
What would you like to say to President Maduro?
To concern himself with the country. Ensure the country is not reduced to the vision of those who have clung to power ... Respect the Constitution and seek the truth. The biggest problem I see is that truth is a pliable element, manipulated ... I would like to tell him to listen to the people who suffer ... Not to close his eyes to poverty, to misery, to the pain of people, to the suffering of the sick. People die because there is no food, there are no medicines ... That he hears the screams of people!
As a bishop, how do you comfort so many people in this situation?
In the Bible it is written: "comfort my people." This is our first pastoral task. A second task is to treat the wounds of anger, impotence and pain and to ask people not to turn the pain into hate ... And, lastly, we ask people not to lose hope. It is soothing to note that in all this situation a sense of solidarity has arisen between people, common meals are being made, people help one another.
There is the feeling that "God is always present". Everywhere we hear the words: "God first", "God, help us."