International

Pope calls for end to violence, respect for human rights, in Venezuela

Image: Pope Francis blesses at the end of special audience for Catholic Action members in St. Peter’s Square at the Vatican, April 30, 2017. REUTERS/Tony Gentile

ROME (Reuters) – Pope Francis called on Sunday for the respect of human rights and an end to violence in Venezuela, where nearly 30 people were killed in unrest this month.

Francis, speaking to tens of thousands of people in St. Peter’s Square for his weekly address, decried a “grave humanitarian, social , political and economic crisis that is exhausting the population”.

Venezuela’s opposition is demanding elections, autonomy for the legislature where they have a majority, a humanitarian aid channel from abroad to alleviate an economic crisis, and freedom for more than 100 activists jailed by President Nicolas Maduro’s government.

“I make a heartfelt appeal to the government and all components of Venezuelan society to avoid any more forms of violence, respect human rights and seek a negotiated solution …,” he said.

Supporters say Leopoldo Lopez, the jailed head of the hardline opposition Popular Will party, and others are political prisoners whose arrests symbolise Maduro’s lurch into dictatorship.

Maduro says all are behind bars for legitimate crimes, and calls Lopez, 45, a violent hothead intent on promoting a coup.

Vatican-led talks between the government and the opposition have broken down.

Francis told reporters on the plane returning from Cairo on Saturday that “very clear conditions” were necessary for the talks to resume.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; Editing by Ros Russell)

Copyright 2017 Thomson Reuters. Click for Restrictions.

Related posts

Typhoon kills 12, destroys rice fields in Philippines, takes aim at Hong Kong

Reuters

After U.S. exit, Asian nations try to save TPP trade deal

Reuters

Poland risks Moscow’s ire with plan to relocate war memorials

Reuters

Leave a Comment

error: Content is protected !!