On April 11th and 12th, Jesuits from the Conference of Provincials of Latin America and the Caribbean (CPAL) held an extraordinary meeting in Panama City to discuss the Venezuelan situation and to formulate collaborative proposals with the mission of the Apostolic Body of the Society of Jesus on the current reality of the country.

Among those present at the meeting were: for the Province of Venezuela, Fr. Luis Ugalde (director of CERPE), Fr. José Virtuoso (president of UCAB), Fr. Manuel Zapata (director of Gumilla), Fr. Yovanny Bermúdez (director of JRS-VEN), Fr. Dizzi Perales (partner) and Fr. Rafael Garrido (Provincial). The meeting was also attended by Fr. Mauricio García (director RJM LAC and JRS-COL), Fr. Luis Javier Sarralde (assistant of apostolates of the Province of Colombia), Fr. Rafael Moreno Villa and Fr. Mario Serrano Marte (current and next delegates of the Social Sector in CPAL), Agnaldo Junior (director of JSM-BRA) and Fr. Roberto Jaramillo (President of CPAL).

After this encounter, in relation to the Venezuelan situation, it was concluded that:

  • There is a serious and systematic growing crisis in the country that is generating a worrying humanitarian emergency, which real magnitude is not being recognized or addressed internally and internationally, and that despite political, economic and ideological differences it needs to be addressed.
  • The number of people who, as a consequence of this crisis, are emigrating from Venezuela or in need of international protection has become so great that they have already exceeded the ordinary operational capacity of the private, governmental or multilateral humanitarian institutions of neighboring countries.
  • In any hypothesis of evolution of this alarming situation, the most probable outcome is that in the short and medium terms the humanitarian emergency will be maintained or increased, and the suffering of the Venezuelan population will be prolonged.
  • The Church –and within the Society of Jesus– is able to make an impartial contribution in the solution of this crisis; for being an institution that has credibility with the population based on its accumulated experience, its knowledge of the reality, its level of insertion and commitment to the poor, its national and international relations, and the role it has played in defending human rights and education.

Consequently, it is urgent and necessary that the Jesuits of Venezuela, together with their brothers of Latin America and the Society of Jesus as a whole, in partnership and collaboration with other ecclesial and civil institutions, contribute as soon as possible to create conditions that generate hope, respond to the humanitarian emergency and address the structural causes that have generated it.

To achieve this, some proposals have been developed aiming at:

  • Promoting, reinforcing and articulating more work with or in favor of Venezuelan migrants or in need of international protection through the Jesuit Network with Migrants-LAC, our Universities, Colleges, Schools, Parishes, social centers, spirituality centers, radios, etc.
  • Establishing concrete forms of collaboration of the communities and works of the CPAL with the mission of the apostolic body of the Society of Jesus in Venezuela that includes Jesuits, collaborators and their families.
  • Collaborating in the search and construction of alternative political resolutions for Venezuela and for the democratic crisis in the region.

The proposals will be presented in their entirety and evaluated at the next meeting of the CPAL Assembly, which will be held in Haiti, the first week of May.

We are convinced that the alternatives to the Venezuelan situation have to be conceived and carried out by Venezuelans, but at the same time we consider that the solidarity support of the international community is necessary and urgent in the creation of conditions that allow a true dialogue and agreement of proposals and action plans.

Panama City, April 12th 2018

[This is a translated version of the Spanish article “Juntos como hermanos: Informe de los resultados de la reunión de los jesuitas sobre la situación venezolana” orginally published by CPAL here]