Viva’s partner network in Venezuela is asking for prayer as the country faces a mounting humanitarian crisis caused by widespread energy shortages and lack of basic goods.
More than eight in ten of the South American country’s 30 million people are directly affected by the situation, with children and families inevitably hit the hardest. A third of the population is under 15 years.
A severe drought over the last few months, caused by the El Niño weather phenomenon, has led to water levels behind the nation’s largest hydroelectric dam becoming critically low.
The government is responding to the electricity issue – too late according to critics – by announcing that Fridays are non-working holidays and by putting clocks forward by 30 minutes to reduce the use of air conditioning and lighting in the evenings.
Maritza Sibila is the co-ordinator of our partner network Renacseniv, which serves 40,000 children through its 450 churches and 12 organisations in the capital city, Caracas.
She reports, “During this time of crisis, we are seeing a significant decline in public services and a disproportionate increase in crime and violence.”
“The working class has been hard hit by hyperinflation – the highest of anywhere in the world, at 720 per cent, according to the International Monetary Fund. There is a declining labour supply and production.”
Maritza asks especially for prayer for children and teenagers in Caracas, many of whom are lacking the basic necessities for food, education, health and security.
“Children don’t have enough milk, cereals, fruit, meat and cheese to eat. Their parents and guardians spend hours queuing to buy meals and often go home with nothing. It is very frustrating.
“We pray that children who are unwell will receive the medicines they need and that the 11 million students in primary and secondary education would not suffer because of the situation. We pray for teachers hit hard by the economic situation and the consequential rise in crime and school violence.
“We pray too that God would protect children, teenagers and their families, and pray against the increasing risk of sexual exploitation and human trafficking.”
The socialist government’s policies are being widely blamed for the situation and, on Monday (2 May), Venezuela’s opposition presented to the electoral authorities a petition with the signatures of 1.85 million voters calling for a referendum to oust President Nicolas Maduro.
It is the first step in a process which could lead to a recall referendum being held by the end of the year. Under Venezuela’s constitution, presidents can be removed from office by means of a referendum once they have served half their term. Mr Maduro (above) took office three years ago and his term is set to end in 2019.
Maritza says, “Most people want and expect an institutional and democratic change, as evidenced in the elections of December 2015 and the recent collection of signatures. We pray for a change in public policy to return constitutional and democratic order in the country.
“We thank God because He is in control. We are sorry for idolatry and disobedience to biblical principles. We pray for all who are in authority to repent and act well as civil servants and not as masters of the people who elected them.”
Please join us in praying for Venezuela at this time.