COSTA RICA, January 8, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) – Twenty former presidents of Latin American nations sent an open letter on Jan. 5 to Pope Francis in which they criticized his call for “harmony” in socialist Venezuela and “reconciliation” in Nicaragua where Marxist governments have ruined these countries' national economies and subjected citizens to torture and summary executions.
Led by Nobel Prize-winner and former president of Costa Rica Oscar Arias, the letter to the pontiff said, “We are concerned that the call for harmony on the part of your Holiness in which, given the current context, can be understood by the victimized nations that they should come to agreement with their victimizers. In particular, in the case of Venezuela, the government has caused the flight of 3 million refugees, which the United Nations predicts will reach 5.9 million in 2019.”
The letter writers were reacting to the Pope’s Dec. 25 Christmas message in which he referred to Venezuela and Nicaragua.
“May this blessed season allow Venezuela once more to recover social harmony and enable all the members of society to work fraternally for the country’s development and to aid the most vulnerable sectors of the population,” he said.
As for Nicaragua, the pope stated: “Before the Child Jesus, may the inhabitants of beloved Nicaragua see themselves once more as brothers and sisters, so that divisions and discord will not prevail, but all may work to promote reconciliation and to build together the future of the country.”
The letter co-signed by Arias and nineteen other Latin American leaders noted that Venezuelans are the “victims of a militarized narco-dictatorship, which has no qualms about systematically violating the rights to life, liberty and personal integrity.”
The following is a translation of the letter:
We the undersigned, as former chiefs of state and government, have signed statements concerning Venezuela and Nicaragua that stem from the Democratic Initiative of Spain and the Americas (IDEA), and therefore come to you regarding your recent Christmas message in which you call for “harmony” among the peoples of both nations.
As we expressed in a previous message to your Holiness, we understand your concern for the suffering that today, without distinction, all Venezuelans and now Nicaraguans face. The former are victims of oppression by a militarized narco-dictatorship, which has no qualms about systematically violating the rights to life, liberty and personal integrity and, as a result of deliberate public policies and unbridled corruption, has scandalized the world and that have subjected them to widespread famine and lack of medicine. The latter case, in the middle of the year, there were 300 killed and 2,500 wounded in a wave of repression.
We are concerned that the call for harmony on the part of your Holiness which, given the current context, can be understood by the victimized nations that they should come to agreement with their victimizers. In particular, in the case of Venezuela, the government has caused the flight of 3 million refugees, which the United Nations predicts will reach 5.9 million in 2019.
The expression used by His Holiness, who we know which was in good faith and guided by his pastoral spirit, is being interpreted in a very negative way by the majorities of Venezuela and Nicaragua. Above all, there is currently, in these countries, a political dispute that demands understanding, tolerance between conflicting forces with different narratives within a normal or deficient democracy that today unfortunately does not exist there. Their entire populations are subjected to suffering by their governments, under regimes that serve a lie, and social and political leaders, opinion leaders and the press, who suffer jailings, persecution and death, as demonstrated by European and American human rights organizations.
The encyclical Ad Petri Cathedram declares that the call to harmony must be made, fundamentally, “to those who govern the nations.” “Those who oppress others and strip them of their due liberty can contribute nothing to the attainment of this unity” for the intelligence, of the spirits, of the actions, as your predecessor, St. Pope John XXIII, reminds us, and for which we long for the dear people of Venezuela and Nicaragua may regain, based on truth and justice, so that they may enjoy a just peace.
We wish your Holiness a very happy Feast of the Nativity. We look forward to meeting with you at an appropriate time.
Oscar Arias, Costa Rica
Nicolás Ardito Barletta, Panamá
Enrique Bolaños, Nicaragua
Alfredo Cristiani, El Salvador
Felipe Calderón, México
Rafael Ángel Calderón, Costa Rica
Laura Chinchilla, Costa Rica
Fernando De la Rúa, Argentina
Vicente Fox, México
Eduardo Frei, Chile
César Gaviria T., Colombia
Osvaldo Hurtado, Ecuador
Luis Alberto Lacalle, Uruguay
Jamil Mahuad, Ecuador
Mireya Moscoso, Panamá
Andrés Pastrana A., Colombia
Jorge Tuto Quiroga, Bolivia
Miguel Ángel Rodríguez, Costa Rica
Álvaro Uribe V., Colombia
Juan Carlos Wasmosy, Paraguay