Hyperinflation and corruption continued to drive Venezuela’s economy into the abyss in 2019. Millions have already left the country. Nationwide protests in large parts of the population weakened the position of the ruler Nicolas Maduro. However, this did not change the fact that he is still in power. In this disastrous situation, the Church is often the only institution in which people still trust. But it simply lacks the financial means to fulfil its tasks. Our aid to the Church in Venezuela is therefore first and foremost survival assistance.
Economic hardship is felt everywhere in Venezuela. The shelves are empty in shops. If there are any goods at all, they are only available for dollars. Inflation is astronomical; crime is boundless. Older people, children and the sick are dying due to a lack of medicine and electricity outages – even in hospitals. Meanwhile, Maduro has handed over control of the economy to his generals for exploitation.
Thus only a small elite continues to profit from the wealth of the country, which has the largest oil reserves in the world, while the vast majority lives in destitution and hardship. More than ever, the Venezuelan Church has become the backbone of the people. It is the institution that, despite all the tension, constantly urges a search for peaceful solutions and proclaims the message of love and hope. In doing so, it is urgently dependent on help from abroad.
ACN is one of its most important partners in this mission. In 2019, we received 200 requests for aid from Venezuela. Among them, 30 requests alone were for emergency aid, for example, to generate power through solar installations or to build wells for water production. We made half a million euros available in the form of Mass stipends for the existential help of priests in need. For the first time, nuns also received pure survival assistance.
In the greatest of all crises, the Church is the backbone of the people.
Unfortunately, as the economic and social hardships grow, so too do the religious doubts of the Venezuelans. A good third of about 1 million euros we used to help Venezuela in 2019 was therefore invested in pastoral projects to strengthen the faith of the people.