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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact 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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Video Galapagos Volcano Eruption Threatens Pink Iguanas

Nearly 1.8 kilometer-high Wolf volcano on Isabela Island is home to world's only population of pink iguanas, as well as variety of plants, animals
More

Video Extreme Weather Wreaks Havoc in Texas, Mexico

More than 1,000 homes damaged or destroyed in Texas, thousands of residents displaced; Tornado cleanup continues near Mexico border
More

Colombia's FARC Says End of Ceasefire a 'Step Back' in Peace Talks

Speaking from Havana, Cuba, where talks have been taking place for two and a half years, FARC Marxist leadership says peace would be unattainable if offensives intensify
More

Relatives Doubt 42 Men Died in Mexico Ranch Shootout

The lopsided death toll and photographs from the scene in which bodies appeared to have been moved have raised questions
More

Pope Beatifies Murdered Salvadoran Archbishop

Hundreds of thousands of worshippers converge on Salvadoran capital to witness papal declaration for late Oscar Romero - now one step from Roman Catholic sainthood
More

Scores Killed in Western Mexico Gunfight

Officials say almost every person killed in Michoacan state shootout was a suspected gang member
More