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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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 "Without free press, there is no democracy", during a protest by newspaper workers and opposition parties in Caracas, Feb. 11, 2014.
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid

More Americas News

Jailed American Aims to Leave Cuba 'Dead or Alive'

In Havana after visiting Alan Gross, attorney Scott Gilbert say his client has lost some vision in his right eye, walks with a limp due to hip problems, has lost a tooth and is 50 kilograms lighter than at the time of his arrest
More

Oldest Living Pro Ballplayer Dead at 102

Conrado Marrero's grandson confirmed the death, which came just two days before the centenarian's 103rd birthday
More

Summit to Protect Oceans Opens

Oceans called fundamental to life
More

Actress Lupita Nyong'o is People's 'Most Beautiful' Woman

Oscar winner, 31, lauded for role in '12 Years A Slave' says she 'never dreamed' she would be praised for her looks and land on cover of weekly magazine
More

Violent Protests Erupt Near Rio's Tourist Attractions

The rioting was sparked after word spread that the body of Douglas Rafael da Silva Pereira, a dancer on Brazil's Globo television network, had been discovered
More

Russia Expels Canadian Diplomat

Reports say first secretary's expulsion in Moscow is in retaliation for deportation of Russian military attache from Russian Embassy in Ottawa
More