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

China’s Influence Grows With New Infrastructure Bank

Multibillion-dollar China-backed and BRICS-supported Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank seen as possible challenger to such lenders as IMF, World Bank More

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

Rabbi Michel Serfaty makes the rounds in his friendship bus to encourage dialogue and break down barriers between the two groups More

Post-deal Iran Leaders Need 'Economic Momentum' to Solidify Power Base

Economists say deal could inject more than $100 billion into coffers - not enough to entirely rescue ailing economy - but maybe adequate to create 'economic momentum' 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.
US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impacti
X
Michael Bowman
June 28, 2015 10:05 PM
Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video US Gay Marriage Ruling Yields Real-life Impact

Friday’s landmark Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriage throughout the United States is an outcome few thought possible just years ago, and shows a nation that increasingly tolerates and even celebrates the hopes and aspirations of gay people. VOA’s Michael Bowman spoke to a same-sex couple that will benefit from the high court ruling, and to a Christian scholar who is apprehensive about its potential consequences for America’s faith community.
Video

Video Syrians Flee IS Advance in Hasaka

The Syrian government said Monday it has taken back one of several districts in Hasaka overrun by Islamic State militants. But continued fighting elsewhere in the northern city has forced thousands of civilians from their homes. In this report narrated by Bill Rodgers, VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer describes the scene in Amouda, where some of the displaced are taking refuge.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video S. Korea Christians Protest Gay Rights Festival

The U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating marriage equality nationwide has energized gay rights supporters around the world. Gay rights remain a highly contentious issue in a key U.S. ally, South Korea, where police did a deft job Sunday of preventing potential clashes between Christian protesters and gay activists. Kurt Achin reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees Return to Tal Abyad

Syrian refugees in Turkey confirm they left their hometown of Tal Abyad because of intense fighting and coalition airstrikes, not because Kurdish fighters were engaged in ethnic cleansing, as some Turkish officials charged. VOA Kurdish Service reporter Zana Omer, in Tal Abyad, finds that civilians coming back to the town agree, as we hear in this report narrated by Roger Wilkison.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.
Video

Video In Syrian Crisis, Social Media Offer Small Comforts

Za’atari, a makeshift city in Jordan, may be the only Syrian refugee camp to tweet its activities, in an effort to keep donors motivated as the war in Syria intensifies and the humanitarian crisis deepens. Inside the camp, families say mobile phone applications help hold together families that are physically torn apart. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Chemical-Sniffing Technology Fights Australia's Graffiti Vandals

Cities and towns all over the world spend huge amounts of resources battling graffiti writers who deface buildings, public transport vehicles and even monuments. Authorities in Sydney, Australia, hope a new chemical-sniffing technology finally will stop vandals from scribbling on walls in the passenger areas of commuter trains. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Cambodia Struggling to Curb Child Labor

Earlier this year a United Nations report found 10 percent of Cambodian children aged 7-14 are working – one of the highest rates in the region – and said one in four children in that age bracket are forced to quit school to help their families. Although the child labor rate has dropped over the past decade, Cambodia has a lot more to do – including keeping more children in school. Robert Carmichael reports for VOA from Phnom Penh.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

US, Brazil's Climate-Change Plan: More Renewables, Less Deforestation

Officials say joint initiative on climate change will allow Brazil, United States to strengthen and accelerate cooperation on issues ranging from land use to clean energy
More

Obama, Rousseff Try to Put Spy Scandal Behind Them

Two leaders opened two days of talks in Washington on Monday
More

Climate Tops Obama Meeting with Brazil Leader

It is not yet known if Rousseff will announce her country's emissions reduction targets while in Washington
More

Puerto Rico Unable to Pay Its Debts

US territory reportedly is $72 billion in arrears; its bond debt per capita is said to be higher than in any American state
More

US Same-Sex Marriage Ruling Likely to Impact Other Countries

Gay rights activists in many parts of world believe court ruling will help their cause
More

Argentine Judge Orders Seizure of Falklands Drillers' Assets

Country is taking firmer line on disputed territory ahead of October elections
More