Bishop Says Nicolás Maduro Has Turned Venezuela into a ‘Concentration Camp’

UN rights chief calls for probe of abuses by Venezuela forces
AFP/Federico PARRA

Venezuelan Bishop Jaime Villarroel denounced the regime of President Nicolás Maduro for treating citizens like criminals and turning the entire country into a huge “concentration camp.”

Villarroel, the bishop of Carúpano in Venezuela, said the government practices torture and cases have already been filed before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the International Criminal Court against the Venezuelan government, speaking at a press conference in Mexico City Wednesday.

The Maduro regime “is carrying out an extermination, killing our people through hunger and lack of medicines,” the bishop said, insisting that “Venezuela is a concentration camp where the Venezuelans themselves are being exterminated.”

Villarroel said that the Venezuela’s crisis began in 1999 with the arrival of Hugo Chávez to power but has been exacerbated by President Maduro and is now “a tragedy of unimaginable dimensions.”

“We do not vote with common sense or with reason, and this has led to a tragedy where thousands and thousands of Venezuelans are dying because of a lack of food and medicine and where human rights are constantly violated,” he said.

“Today 80 percent of our industries are destroyed,” he said, adding that “last month inflation was at 270 percent and there are few products for sale.”

“The minimum wage for a Venezuelan is between four and six dollars a month,” Villarroel. “With four to six dollars a family has to feed their children for a month.”

With that much money, a worker in Venezuela could only buy “three or four products: a carton of eggs, a kilo of rice, a packet of flour, and some meat. There is not enough to buy anything else,” he said.

“There are homes where the only food is a little rice for the whole day,” he said.

Along with the food crisis, medical services are radically insufficient, the bishop said, noting that in 2017 “more than 20,000 newborn children died, because there are no conditions to take care of the mothers when they are going to give birth.”

“Many mothers have to give birth in hospital corridors and 60 percent of mothers have died in childbirth,” he said.

In hospitals, the most basic items are unavailable and “you cannot get cotton, gauze, or alcohol,” he said.

The bishop said that Venezuela has urgent need of help from outside.

The Venezuelan people “cannot escape this situation by themselves,” he said.

Meanwhile, the media “are totally controlled by the government,” the bishop said, and spread false propaganda “showing a Venezuela where everything is prosperous, nothing is lacking, and all Venezuelans live well”

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