Follow Vatican’s lead to save Venezuela, former Latin leaders say

Follow Vatican’s lead to save Venezuela, former Latin leaders say

Time is running out to solve Venezuela’s problems, two former Latin American leaders have announced, calling for the international community to follow the Vatican’s lead in tackling the crisis.

Speaking in the Vatican, Bolivia’s former president Jorge Quiroga said that President Nicolas Maduro’s attempts to “put a group of his friends in what is called a ‘constituent assembly’ would be the end of democracy and the annihilation of the Republic of Venezuela”. He warned that this would “install a Soviet state in Venezuela, liquidate democracy, end the Congress, cancel elections and turn Venezuela into a sort of Caribbean ‘North Korea”.

Columbia’s former president Andres Pastrana [pictured] asked whether support for Mr Maduro from other Latin American leaders was tantamount to saying “keep killing, continue slaughtering youth who are raising their voices in Venezuela”, and said, “I think dialogue has ended in Venezuela, that word has been stricken from the Venezuelan dictionary.”

Protests and conflict have racked the South American county since March, when Venezuela’s supreme court ruled to dissolve the country’s opposition-dominated parliament and transfer legislative powers to the Maduro-backed court.

Thanking Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin for his call for humanitarian aid, free elections and the release of political prisoners, Mr Pastrana said he hoped the international community would follow the Vatican’s proposals

“The Vatican has enormous moral and political weight and its position – in the name of Cardinal Parolin and the Holy Father – would be a determining factor to reel Venezuela back in toward the path of democracy,” he said.