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Monday, April 22, 2013

Pope Francis admits to Venezuela worries

Pope Francis admitted to being worried yesterday by the incidents that have taken place in Venezuela after the presidential elections, and urged politicians there to establish a dialogue and reject violence.

“I am following closely what is happening in Venezuela,” the pontiff told a crowd of thousands in St Peter’s Square yesterday.

Francis said that he was accompanying the Venzuelan people with “concern, intense prayer and the hope that a peaceful and fair way can be found for the country to get over the difficult time it is going through.”

“I invite the dear Venezuelan nation, in particular those responsible for the institutions and the politicians, to firmly reject any type of violence and to establish dialogue based on truth and mutual recognition, in search of common fairness and love for the country,” he said.

In Caracas, Yendri Sánchez González — the spectator who rushed the stage and interrupted President Nicolás Maduro’s inaugural address on Friday — has been placed on remand in custody.

The 28-year-old was arrested for getting past security and interrupting the swearing-in ceremony.

In a hearing, prosecutor Katherine Harrington charged Sánchez with gravely offending a head of state, in accordance with the Criminal Code and Organic Law against Organized Crime and Terrorist Funding, the website of Globovisión said yesterday.

The ninth court of Metropolitan Area Control in Caracas, after listening to Harrington’s arguments, accepted the charges and announced the decision to imprison Sánchez and ordered him to be detained in the Penitentiary Community of Coro, in the state of Falcón.

After further investigation, Juan Sales Sierra— Sánchez´s cousin— was also arrested, in the state of Zulia, for being supposedly linked to the crime.

Local press reported on Saturday that this is not the first time that Sánchez has interrupted a major event. He is apparently well-known in the country for making appearances before politicians and singers. On April 10, he burst onto a stage where the opposition leader Henrique Capriles was giving a speech.

Reports in the Venezuelan media have suggested that Sánchez carries out this activity with his cousin, Sales, sometimes crashing events together and at other times, in competition against each other.

As well as interrupting the presidential campaign speeches, the cousins also burst in on activities carried out by Manuel Rosales — ex-governor of Zulia and a presidential candidate in 2006. They even managed to get through Hugo Chávez’s security in the past, during a speech on Los Próceres promenade.

Last Friday, just after Maduro had started his inaugural speech in the National Assembly, Sánchez managed to get past security once again. He ran up to Maduro, grabbed the microphone from his hand and said: “Nicolás, I need help.”

He was immediately held down by guards and Maduro continued his speech. The president was heard exclaiming: “The security here has completely failed, they could have shot me.”

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