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Venezuela: inching nearer to civil war?

Venezuela (MNN) – More countries are now backing the opposition movement in Venezuela.  First, the scenario, as described by Trans World Radio’s Vice President for Latin America & the Caribbean, Steve Shantz: “The opposition leader, Juan Guaido, has declared himself as the legitimate president of Venezuela saying that President Maduro has usurped the presidency, and he’s named himself as the legitimate president of the country.”

(Image courtesy of Commons.Wikiemedia.org)

Two presidents, one crisis-ridden country, and a military that is starting to split between Mr. Guaido and President Maduro.Following disputed elections, Mr Maduro last month took his oath of office for a second term.

The issue?  Many opposition leaders did not contest the ballot because they were in jail or boycotting them. He also has the backing of a number of countries including China and Russia.

Meanwhile, Shantz explains, ”France gave an ultimatum to Maduro to hold free and unrestricted elections, or they would support the opposition. Maduro did not comply, so they have done that”, which means that various countries, including the UK, Germany, and Spain have taken sides in Venezuela’s power struggle.

In total, 17 EU countries and the United States back up Mr. Guaido as interim president. Most urge new elections.

As the head of Venezuela’s National Assembly, Mr Guaidó, claims the constitution allows him to assume power temporarily when circumstances deem the president illegitimate.   The Lima Group, a coalition of Latin American countries that Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and Peru, signed a 17-point declaration that backs him up.

With powerhouse countries squaring off on opposite sides and protesters facing off in dueling rallies in Venezuela,  the situation is becoming explosive.

Is Civil War A Reality?

‘Civil war’ is a term that no one really wants to give voice to, but the conditions are right for one. At the moment, the military is still behind Mr. Maduro.  However, with last month’s attempted coup, it wouldn’t take much to set off the powder keg.

“What would be really a damaging situation though,” warns Shantz, “is where you have enough of the military (that) would side with the opposition, and yet there would be others that are still loyal to President Maduro. I think there would be some fighting, and I think that would be very tragic because that’s going to mean a loss of life and bloodshed.”

(Photo courtesy of Radio Trans Mundial de Venezuela)

To call the situation ‘unsettling’ is downplaying the overall impact. Prior to the current predicament, there was economic crisis, worsened by sanctions.  Venezuelans, shaken to the core, are perplexed about how to cope.

”They don’t have enough food, they don’t have enough money, they don’t have enough medicine. They’re lacking essential components of daily life,” explains Shantz.

“They’re asking questions, so we pray that those who have the answer, knowing Christ, and having a changed life through Jesus Christ, can offer hope to those who don’t know Him.” As a result, Christians are finding that their neighbors, and their friends, and people that they associate with are much more open to spiritual things at this time.

Desperately Searching For Hope

Trans World Radio walks a fine line at times like these.

“We try and direct our programming to emphasize what the Bible says about dealing with situations of crises, dealing with difficulty, dealing with governments and powers and authorities and such. We try and tailor our programming to be positive and reinforcing and uplifting for the general populace.”

However, acknowledging a situation is not the same as ‘taking sides’ in it.

“We don’t address the political situation. We don’t want to try to address the government and influence those kinds of things, because that’s not our position. Our position is one of teaching the Bible and teaching what the scripture says about how to deal with these situations.”

Venezuela’s dilemma changes hourly. Shantz is urging the body of Christ to stay informed about the crisis, so we know how to keep praying about it. Pray for the Christians, too, that, “As they speak and interact, that they would be bold in preaching the Gospel, or in sharing their faith and telling others about what is giving them hope, what is giving them help in their lives.”

Headline photo courtesy PalacioLegislativo/Commons.Wikimedia.org

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