News / Americas

Pope Francis Speaks Out on Venezuela Violence

Pope Francis poses with a group of priests at the end his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican Feb. 26, 2014.
Pope Francis poses with a group of priests at the end his Wednesday general audience in Saint Peter's square at the Vatican Feb. 26, 2014.
Pope Francis is calling for "sincere dialogue" in his first public comments on the ongoing crisis in Venezuela. He asked people to pray for the country.

Dozens of NGOs also condemned the violence Wednesday.

"I am following with particular apprehension the events that are unfolding these days in Venezuela,'' Pope Francis said during the weekly audience Wednesday in St. Peter's square at the Vatican.

"I hope the violence and hostility comes to an end and all the Venezuelan people, starting from those in politics and the institutions, strive for national reconciliation through reciprocal forgiveness and dialogue, respecting truth and justice and ready to confront issues for the good of the whole community'' he said.

Pope Francis said he hoped "the country quickly returns to peace and calm".

The Pontiff invited all Catholics "to pray to God, through the maternal intercession of our Lady of Coromoto [the patron saint of Venezuela]", for peace and harmony to return to Venezuela.

In a meeting at the Presidency with Governors and mayors, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro reiterated Monday night an invitation to dialogue with various political and social sectors on Wednesday.

"I am confident that [the dialogue] will lead to important agreements regarding the future of the nation.  But foremost we must respect ourselves and respect the Constitution", Maduro said in Spanish at the end of the meeting.  Opposition leader Henrique Capriles refused to attend in a show of opposition to what he described as the "violation of human rights and repression" against protesters.

Meanwhile, dozens of NGOs are condemning the violence in Venezuela.

52 organizations from 16 countries, including the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference and others are demanding a government investigation to find those responsible.

A statement signed by the coalition of human rights organizations that includes Amnesty International and the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL) says  "the Venezuelan State must carry out ex officio investigations that are independent, impartial and effective, to shed light on the violence, regardless of whether they were perpetrated by protesters, armed civilians or occurred as a result of excessive use of force by Venezuelan police or military officials.

The statement added that  "government security bodies must maintain public order through means and methods that are respectful of human rights".

"The use of lethal force and firearms by officials of the State - the statement said - should be exceptional and limited by the principles of proportionality, necessity and humanity".

A similar statement was issued by the Venezuelan Episcopal Conference and 22 NGOs, noting "the defenselessness of citizens before armed groups - not police or military - that have lashed out against the population".

A sign reading
A sign reading "Without free press, there is no democracy", during a protest by newspaper workers and opposition parties in Caracas, Feb. 11, 2014.


Press Censorship

The Inter-American Press Association, (IAPA) is condemning Venezuela for censoring the press.

In an interview with VOA, Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Press Freedom and Information said his organization considers President Nicolas Maduro's administration's actions a violation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

IAPA also condemned the hostile treatment faced by national and foreign media.

Paolillo was critical of the Organization of American States (OAS) for not taking a more active role to protect journalists working in Venezuela.


Additional reporting by Luis Alberto Facal 
  • Anti-government demonstrators clash with riot police at Altamira Square in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Anti-government demonstrators run from tear gas during clashes with riot police at Altamira Square in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • People walk in front of a burning barricade blocking the highway in Chacao, Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Motorcyclists waving a Venezuelan flag attend a rally in support of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Motorcyclists attend a rally in support of Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro in Caracas, Feb. 24, 2014.
  • Opposition supporters march protest against President Nicolas Maduro's government in Caracas Feb. 22, 2014.
  • An opposition supporter walks past words painted on a blocked street, reading 'Maduro murderer', at Altamira Square in Caracas, Feb. 21, 2014.
  • Members of a pro-government "colectivo," or "collective," march in downtown Caracas, Feb. 20, 2014.
  • Opposition supporters walk past a burning barricade at Altamira square in Caracas, Feb. 20, 2014.

You May Like

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

More Americas News

US, Cuba Teams Discuss Telecommunications Issues

US delegation visited Cuba this week as the two nations continued efforts to restore diplomatic relations broken over 50 years ago
More

Egyptian Court Adjourns Trial of Al Jazeera Journalists to April 22

Two journalists are charged with aiding a terrorist organization, a reference to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt banned following 2013 army takeover
More

Rio Exhibition Dramatizes Olympian Bay Cleanup Task

Display highlights problem of trash in Guanabara Bay, where sailing, windsurfing events are to take place in next Summer Games
More

Chile Says Drought Permanent, Lays Out Water Plan

President Michelle Bachelet says government will invest in desalinization plants and reservoirs to ensure access to potable water
More

Poll: Venezuelan Leader's Popularity Inches Up to 25%

Rise comes after United States declared Venezuela a security threat and ordered sanctions against seven officials
More

High Winds, Drought Feed Chilean Forest Fires

Blazes have ravaged swaths of China Muerta and Nalca Lolco reserves and Conguillio national park, revered for its ancient forests
More