VENEZUELA: A NATION IN DISTRESS
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is a country in distress. With a myriad of problems ranging from inflation, to poverty crisis, malnutrition, violence and insecurity, an atmosphere of civil war prevails. New economic measures such as the devaluation of the national currency and the sharp increase in the minimum wage introduced by the government have further increased the country’shoes.
At the moment one would need 63 minimum wages put together to buy a basic family basket and 5 to 6 children die of malnutrition every week. The situation worsens in case of illness as medicines are expensive and many chronic diseases can become deadly.
According to the International Monetary Fund, hyperinflation could reach 1000,000% by the end of December 2018. Faced with this situation, 3 million of Venezuelans have left the country in the last few months and consequently, the neighbouring South American cities are straining under one of the largest migratory waves in the region’s history.
In this chaotic context, the Church too suffers yet she has to respond to these difficulties with faith, charity, hope and perseverance. The Priests and religious are doing everything possible to support, accompany and comfort the people.
Marco Mencaglia, Director of Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) projects for Latin America said that the Pontifical foundation has been present in Venezuela for quite some time but especially in the “last two years where the country and indeed the local clergy are facing a very challenging situation.”
Dioceses of neighbouring countries like Peru, Columbia, Brazil have opened their arms and offered shelter and supplies Venezuelans pouring into their countries.
Fr Víctor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid is the bishop of Cúcuta in Columbia. He said: “We want to be witnesses of charity in the middle of this social disaster; a hand that helps its suffering brothers with love.” He continued: “There is a human drama at the border of our country, a drama of terrible suffering. Our Venezuelan brothers do not have medicines to remedy their illnesses; they are hopeless, and they have suffered a lot.”
He added that the diocese of Cúcuta collected more than 400,000 food parcels to help the needy in Venezuela.
Fr Cadavid reminded us about the Founder of Aid the Church in Need, Fr Werenfried van Straaten, who began the charity, distributing food to refugees at Christmas in 1947.
“We want to follow his example, helping our brothers in need,” he said.
We also encourage Catholics around the world to pray for “the peace and the future of Venezuela.”