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Thursday 23 May 2019
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Letters to the Editor

Venezuela and the Vatican

THE EDITOR: Juan Guaido’s reported overture to the Vatican seeking endorsement for his illegitimate claim to the title of “interim president” must inspire a level of intrigue that is only superseded by the Pope’s non-committal response.

Surely, Pope Francis, having lived life in Argentina and having deep Latin American roots, must be familiar with the politics of the Americas, particularly regarding the historical incursions of the hemispheric hegemon, the US. He must also be equally knowledgeable about the OAS Charter and its mandate for “non-interference.”

What piqued my interest, even more, were the two people named in the media report who reportedly formed part of the Vatican’s Secretariat of State that met with Guaido’s delegation. The people of interest are Monsignor Edgar Pena Parra, who is Venezuelan by birth and whose superior is Cardinal Pietro Parolin, who held a prior posting of Vatican ambassador to Caracas.

Interestingly, too, Guaido’s delegation later met with Italian interior and foreign ministers. It is public knowledge that the Italian government with its populist leaning has refused – and rightly so – to endorse Guaido’s attempted US-inspired coup.

It is also no secret that the Vatican enjoys unique and enduring ties with Washington. The present Pope seems far more willing to involve himself in the vagaries of global politics, even declaring his strong support for the “League of Nations” – the UN – when he addressed the UN General Assembly on that organisation’s 100th anniversary in January.

Francis, in his address, asserted, “An indispensable condition for the success of multilateral diplomacy is the good will and good faith of the parties, their readiness to deal with one another fairly and honestly, and their openness to accepting the inevitable compromises arising from disputes.”

He added: “Whenever even one of these elements is missing, the result is a search for unilateral solutions and, in the end, the domination of the powerful over the weak.”

Let us hope that, like our Prime Minister, his words do not cause him to be lodged between a rock and a hard place.

History will judge the strength of his conviction.

STEVE SMITH via e-mail

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