VATICAN CITY (CBS) — Pope Francis has appealed to Venezuela’s government and social leaders to avoid any more violence as he cited the mounting number of dead, injured and prisoners.
Francis made the comments as he addressed the faithful gathered in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday.
“Dramatic news from Venezuela is arriving. The clashes are severe with numerous dead, injured and imprisoned. While I feel close to the families of the victims to whom I pray, I appeal to the government and all the components of the Venezuelan society so that every further form of violence is avoided, human rights are respected and negotiated solutions are sought to the humanitarian, social, political and economic crises, which are exhausting the people. Let’s entrust to Holy Virgin Mary the will of peace, reconciliation and democracy for that beloved nation. Let’s pray for all those countries which are passing through severe difficulties, in particular in the Republic of Macedonia,” said Pope Francis.
Venezuelans are demanding elections and the release of political prisoners.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets of Venezuela’s capital on Wednesday, with the rejuvenated anti-government movement showing no sign of letting up on political unrest that has been blamed for 29 deaths in recent weeks.
Protesters clash with security forces, who used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds.
More than 400 people have been injured and nearly 1,300 detained in clashes since last month’s Supreme Court ruling that stripped congress of its last powers.