Venezuela, once one of the richest countries in Latin America, is now one of the poorest and most unstable countries in the world. Populism in Latin America changed Venezuela and resulted in the election of charismatic leader Hugo Chavez as president of Venezuela up until 2013. While Chavez did manage to provide basic goods and services for the lower class of Venezuela, he manipulated the economy so much that it became extremely oil-dependent. After his death in 2013, Nicolas Maduro took the presidency; inflation and sociopolitical instability continued to rise in Venezuela. Today the state is experiencing hyperinflation which has led to a humanitarian and refugee crisis due to the lack of basic goods and services such as food, medicine, and healthcare facilities.
Civilians are participating in protests to overthrow the Maduro government and violence outbreaks have caught the eye of the international community. Since Juan Guaido, President of Venezuela’s National Assembly, has named himself interim president of Venezuela, the crisis has been in a bit of a stalemate with not a lot of action happening. However, there are still thousands of Venezuelan citizens fleeing the country every day in what’s being called the largest South American exodus. Many children are being left behind as their parents go off in search of a better home for them. Due to inflation being so high parents are leaving Venezuela in hopes of making enough money in other countries, to send back to their children.
The international community is split on what to do with Venezuela; the United States and the majority of Latin America support Juan Guido’s claim to the presidency, while Russia and China support Maduro’s regime. The United Nations Security Council cannot come to an agreement because the United States, Russia, and China are all permanent members and have veto power, meaning that if they cannot all agree on something then no action can be taken.
In light of the split on the international stage, the Catholic Church has stepped into a role of advocacy for the people in Venezuela that so desperately need it. Pope Francis has stated that there needs to be an “avoidance of any form of bloodshed” but has also warned Maduro that political intervention is needed. The church believes that Maduro should step down in order for there to be peace. At the end of the Bishops general assembly they stated, “In face of the reality of an illegitimate and failed government, Venezuela is crying out for a change of direction, a return to the Constitution. That change demands the departure of the one exercising power illegitimately and the election in the shortest possible time of a new president of the republic.” The Church is not hiding nor minimizing their approval of Maduro’s regime and their sadness over how the citizens are being treated.
As of right now there does not seem to be a peaceful resolution in sight, but we should continue to keep Venezuela in our prayers and thoughts as they continue to fight for their rights.