Pope’s solidarity with Venezuela’s victims

Pope Francis is calling for peace and prayerful solidarity with Venezuela’s anti-government protest victims.  The current trouble began in March after President Nicolas Maduro dissolved the opposition-led National Assembly. This caused a constitutional crisis and subsequent political stalemate.

“I promise my own prayers for this beloved nation and express my closeness to the families who have lost their children in the streets,” Francis said.

“I appeal for an end to the violence and for a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis.”

Violence, inflation, rampant crime and chronic shortages of basic goods have been the hallmarks of  Maduro and his predecessor Hugo Chavez’s governments. Victim numbers of the post-March protests vary, with reports of between 80 and 100 dead and at least 1,000 injured. The protesters and opposition supporters are demanding elections.

A Vatican-sponsored dialogue last year failed to settle differences between the Bolivarian government and the opposition. (Venezuela’s official name is the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela). The talks were abandoned in January.

The Venezuelan bishops travelled to the Vatican in early June to brief Francis on their concerns about Maduro’s authoritarian regime. Francis promised them his support and said he had complete faith in them. He also told them he was being kept fully briefed of the Venezuelan situation.

Francis’s support of the bishops makes nonsense of Maduro’s claims he is ignoring them.


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