Opponents of President Nicola Maduro’s United Socialist Party of Venezuela held mass demonstrations recently, demanding a recall election of the beleaguered president as the nation wallows in an economic crisis.
Widespread shortages of common goods and medicines has led to increased crime, rolling blackouts and massive inflation. Economists predict 700 percent inflation this year and a 10 percent reduction in the economy.
Leaders of Mesa de la Unidad Democratica called the demonstration “The Takeover of Caracas” and estimated up to one million citizens participated in what was generally a peaceful protest. However, Venezuela’s state-run media reported about 30,000 attendees.
The government sponsored a counter “anti-coup” protest and claimed to have 30,000 people showing support for Maduro.
Venezuela is one of the world’s most oil-rich nations and had built its economy on oil sales. The downturn in oil prices has had a devastating impact on the country’s economy. That, coupled with a summer drought that rendered the nation’s hydroelectric dams ineffective and led to sporadic electrical service, has left many citizens miserable.
“There is no food. There is no paper. There is no medicine. We are dying,” Maria Alvarez told CNN en Español. “Please, help Venezuela. This has to end. Maduro, you have to understand that your time is up.”
Many once considered Venezuela to be the most advanced country in South America, but that was before the late President Hugo Chavez ushered in Venezuela’s Cuban-style socialist revolution 17 years ago.
Protesters said they have had enough of the policies of the governing United Socialist Party of Venezuela.
“We are going to defeat hunger, crime, inflation and corruption. They’ve done nothing in 17 years. Their time is finished,” Naty Gutierrez told Reuters news agency.
Pray for peace and economic stabilization in Venezuela and for churches there as they minister to the hurting population.