ON BOARD THE PAPAL PLANE – Pope Francis said on Tuesday that “weak” governments had not been able to restore peace and order in Latin American countries that have seen large-scale protests as he flew back to Europe after his trip to Asia.
“There are weak governments, very weak (ones), that have failed to bring order and peace and that is why this situation has been created,” the pontiff said when asked to comment on the latest protests and episodes of violence that are playing out in countries including Chile, Bolivia and Nicaragua.
The Argentinian pope said someone had compared the current situation in Latin America to that of the years between 1974-80 in Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia, when a military campaign known as Operation Condor was launched in a bid to end dissidence, but he “didn’t know” if this was the case.
“In Latin America there are not exactly peace statements,” the pope said of the current climate.
The pontiff said the situation playing out in Chile “scares” him because “the country has just emerged from a problem of abuse that has caused us to suffer so much and now there is this problem that we do not understand.”
“Chile is on fire,” he told the almost 70 journalists aboard the aircraft, including EFE, who were traveling with him during his visit to Thailand and Japan.
He said time needed to be found for dialogue and analysis to take place.
With regards to the possibility of Vatican mediation in some of these crises, the pope recalled that “Venezuela had already asked for it and Bolivia has requested something similar.”
He added that the Holy See “will always be present when necessary.”
When asked about the protests in Hong Kong, the pontiff said what was happening there was also happening in other cities, such as the yellow vest movement in France.
“It is convenient to relativize things and call for dialogue, peace, to solve the problems,” he concluded.
The pope spent several days in Asia and visited Japan and Thailand during the trip.