Nation Divided: Venezuela Enters Day 13 of Clashes


While the world has been focused on Ukraine, another national rebellion continues to rage in Venezuela, where there have been 13 consecutive days of violent clashes.

On one side are pro-democracy forces, many of them students and the middle class. On the other side are police and pro-government groups called Chavistas, followers of the party of anti-American President Hugo Chavez, who died last year of cancer.

Why are Venezuelans so fed up? There are a lot of reasons, including a disastrously mismanaged economy with soaring inflation and shortages of basic goods, terrible crime, and political repression under Chavez' successor, Nicolas Maduro.

Venezuelans abroad are also protesting against the government in places like Florida, California, and Panama.

CBN News' Chuck Holton talked with some protesters in Panama.

"Beyond all the basic needs in Venezuela, we just don't want communism in Venezuela," one man said. "This is a matter of people just trying to feed their kids, of being afraid to go out into the streets and being shot."

"I have a mother and brother in Venezuela," another said. "They're having a really hard time over what is happening in Venezuela."

In Caracas, opposition leader Henrique Capriles told President Maduro, "I will not accept, nor will anyone here, that Venezuelans who think differently are fascists. Take those words and put them you know where."

Meanwhile, there is growing concern over violent government attacks on demonstrators.

Leopoldo Lopez, the opposition politician accused by the government of instigating the demonstrations, is behind bars.

Retired Gen. Angel Vivas, another outspoken critic of the Maduro government, has emerged as a darling of the opposition after engaging in an armed standoff with persons he described as "Cuban and Venezuelan henchman," who had come for him.

Some feel the tipping point in Venezuela will be when enough Chavistas lose faith in the government and join the opposition.

Although it's a very long shot at this point, what happened in Ukraine just might happen in Venezuela.

Meanwhile, the Church is calling for the violence to stop. Many Venezuelan congregations have been fasting and praying for peace in their nation.

César Mermejo, executive director of the Venezuelan Evangelical Council, said the Church is also grieving through this situation.

"I can tell you that there's pain," he said. "There is pain because many of the people that have died are related to pastor's wives. This is a reality that deeply scars the Church, so the Church also resents the acts of extreme criminality in the country."

Mermejo said their stance is to bring peace and comfort to those affected by the current crisis.

"The Church has been by people's side," he continued. "We've made a permanent call to peace, trying to use the media of the country to show that the best way of confrontation is dialogue. That's the way our efforts are directed, and that's the way we have focused our actions until this moment."

The nation's Christians are calling on believers all over the world to pray not only for Venezuela, but for all of those living in similar situations.

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