Pope Francis condemned on Monday a “weakening of democracy” in the Americas, citing the storming of government buildings in Brazil, in his yearly New Year’s address to ambassadors.
“In many areas, a sign of the weakening of democracy is heightened political and social polarisation, which does not help to resolve the urgent problems of citizens,” said Francis during his speech at the Vatican.
The Argentine pontiff cited “various countries of the Americas where political crises are laden with tensions and forms of violence that exacerbate social conflicts”.
“I am thinking of these last few hours in Brazil,” he said, in a line that was not included in the pre-released text.
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He also cited Peru, where nationwide protests have killed at least 22 people, and a “worrying situation” in Haiti, where gang violence is ravaging the poverty-stricken country.
On Sunday in Brasilia, supporters of Brazil’s far-right ex-president Jair Bolsonaro stormed the seat of power, in scenes reminiscent of the January 6, 2021, invasion of the US Capitol building by supporters of then-president Donald Trump.
During his speech, the 86-year-old pope also appealed for an end to the death penalty around the world.
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“The right to life is also threatened in those places where the death penalty continues to be imposed, as is the case in these days in Iran, following the recent demonstrations demanding greater respect for the dignity of women,” said Francis.
“The death penalty cannot be employed for a purported state justice, since it does not constitute a deterrent nor render justice to victims, but only fuels the thirst for vengeance,” he said.
In Iran, 17 people have been condemned to death in connection with more than three months of protests following the death in custody of a young Kurdish woman, Mahsa Amini.
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Four of those convicted have already been executed, sparking international condemnation.
On the subject of education, Francis said it was “unacceptable” that some people were excluded from education, “as is happening to Afghan women”.
© Agence France-Presse