Pope Urges Peace in Venezuela as Strike Goes On

VATICAN CITY, DEC. 4, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II appealed for social peace in Venezuela, a country paralyzed by a general strike aimed at forcing Hugo Chávez to call early elections or resign.

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«Given the news coming from Venezuela, I pray to the God of all consolation that social peace and concord will prevail in that beloved nation,» the Pope said today at the end of the general audience.

From Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father appealed to all Venezuelans to commit themselves to «a dialogue that will benefit the country and thus be able to attain authentic justice founded on truth and solidarity.»

The largest business and labor organizations joined the general strike to put pressure on President Chávez.

Chávez said that the business and labor leaders are promoting a conspiracy to oust him from office.

The tension has caused street confrontations in Caracas and other cities, between opponents of the regime and members of the National Guard. So far, 20 people have been wounded, some from tear gas used by the National Guard.

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