Election adds to tension in Venezuela

Venezuela (MNN) — The crisis in Venezuela seems to get worse every day. Despite this, there is still hope among the people.

Tensions from Recession

The recession in the country has led to a devastating lack of necessities and outrageous inflation in prices. Reuters says families have been paying a third of their wages for one bag of rice.

“Usually, the families right now are just eating once a day,” Trans World Radio’s Annabel Torrealba says. “Some of the kids now are starving on the streets.”

Looking for a way to earn more and provide for families, around half a million Venezuelans have left the country and gone to Colombia in search of better-paying jobs, and supplies of food and medicine.

(Photo by Niels Steeman on Unsplash)

Many Venezuelans have brought their savings, but they’re not worth much. According to Reuters, right now one million Venezuelan bolívar is equal to less than $9 in Colombia.

Venezuelans who have left the country – often men trying to provide for their families – are selling cigarettes, water, and coffee to make money quickly so their families don’t starve. Many are entering Colombia without knowing where they will even sleep or when they’ll return to their families.

“When you read the social media and they say ‘bye’ in the airport, at the border, it is so sad to see that because most of the messages that they write is ‘I hope one day we are going to be together again’. And that breaks your heart when that thing happens because we never thought something like that will happen,” Torrealba says.

Torrealba notes that around 10,000 Venezuelans are leaving the country every day. She says the recession in Venezuela isn’t just hurting the people there but also, “all the countries that surround Venezuela – they have to host them, and give jobs for them, and that is creating a situation there… It’s not like hard right now, but if the situation in Venezuela keep[s] like that, maybe we will have something bigger in the area.”

Colombia is tightening their border control and has added 3,000 more guards. Torrealba says this is affecting Venezuelans who go into the country for a single day.

“They can go and cross the border and buy food in the other side and then come back to their house.” She warns Colombia’s restrictions may cause issues for people doing this. “If they do that, they won’t be able to buy food. So that will be harder for the Venezuelan people to live.”

Tensions from Presidential Elections

Because of the desperation for food, money, medicine, and more, violence, robberies, and tensions have increased. But strains aren’t just building because of the crisis. The presidential elections are further adding stress to those in the country and Torrealba says violent protests are expected.

“Usually when we have elections, there are demonstrations on the streets. That is kind of normal over there because there [is] a group that [doesn’t] agree with what the government is doing right now, and there [is] another group that they support the government and what they are doing. And always, [there] are some kind of demonstration in both sides.”

Oppositions have already been protesting the April 22 election because Leopoldo Lopez and Henrique Capriles – two popular leaders – have been banned from running against President Nicolas Maduro, who has been in office since April 19, 2013.

Other parties have also been outlawed and Reuters says the election board is in favor of President Maduro.

Henri Falcon, a Venezuelan politician, recently announced he would run against President Maduro. Though few think President Maduro will lose the election, Falcon asked authorities to delay it until results could be more reliable.

Both the United States and Colombia have said they will not accept the results of the election as legitimate.

Torrealba asks you to pray about the elections “because we need God to guide everybody to choose the right person at least to get a better life in the country.”

Those who have left the country to go to either Colombia or Brazil can still vote by going to the embassy or consulate, though it takes time to sign up for it and process the request to vote.

“So, if you leave the country today and the elections will be in April, you won’t be able to vote. But, what you can do is just to travel to the country and vote inside the country.”

Hope in Christ

Despite the tensions from the presidential election and the recession, hope is rising among the people.

(Photo courtesy of Trans World Radio)

“Most people are coming close to God because when you are facing trials is when you think, ‘Oh, I cannot resolve this… I need somebody more powerful.’ So, I think in some way that it’s something that we can think, ‘OK, well, they are facing this, but God is bigger than the situation and He can help,” Torrealba says.

TWR is broadcasting Christian radio programs to help encourage the people in these difficult times.

Torrealba notes sometimes the TWR workers don’t have electricity or can’t go to work because of the demonstrations and troubles, but they’re still finding a way to produce broadcasts and share hope in the name of Jesus.

Please pray for the safety of TWR’s Venezuelan team. Pray they won’t be caught in the violence and pray the Lord will bless their work as they share the message of Christ through airwaves.

Also, pray for the stability of finances in Venezuela, for the economy to become stronger, and for the provision of food and medicine for families.

Finally, please pray for people to have wisdom as they vote “because it’s the future… that will be our future.”

To financially support TWR in Venezuela, click here.