Manuel Aristorena SJ, issued a press release on Thursday, February 21st, rejecting the request made by a member of the Bolivarian National Guard who, accompanied by 80 soldiers from the security force, asked the director of the San Javier del Valle school, Mérida, to lend him the facilities to carry out military exercises from Friday, February 22 to Sunday, February 24.

The press release reads as follows:

“At Fe y Alegría, we are investing our energy on a solution to the crisis that affects our country and that hits our people so hard and we do it from what we are: we are schools for peace, for life, for reconciliation and fraternal encounter. We are committed to a better Venezuela through the education of children, youth and adults. We seek that our students think critically, act with ethical criteria and relate to the same feelings of Jesus Christ.

A school is sacred, where our children are being educated. It is not the place for weapons, it is not a place to prepare and annihilate and kill. But it turns out that in some schools we have been visited by military officials and government organizations requesting educational centers for military exercises with weapons. We repeat: the mission of a school is to educate, not to train for war. We also believe that war is never a solution to anything.

Therefore, Fe y Alegría rejects the pretension of using our schools and any other school for this type of exercise.”

The Director of the center, Gerardo Rosales SJ, informed the staff that it would not be possible to hand over the spaces of the institution because it is a home where 375 youth study and live. He also insisted that Fe y Alegría’s educational centers are institutions for peace in which weapons are not allowed.

Rosales said after talking with them, the military understood the explanation and left.

Read the original press release (in Spanish) here.

Photo: Txuo Rodríguez Villarroel SJ