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Catholics caught up in ongoing Venezuelan crisis, loyalist groups tear gas church-goers at Mass

People power: An injured demonstrator is assisted during a violent protest near Carlota airbase in Caracas, Venezuela, on April 30. Venezuelan opposition leader Juan Guaido took to the streets with activist Leopoldo Lopez and a small contingent of heavily armed soldiers in a call for the military to rise up and oust President Nicolas Maduro. Photo: CNS

VENEZUELAN New Farm parishioner Javier Alejandro Lindarte Montero said his country was in the middle of a social, political and economic crisis.

“Venezuela has the highest inflation rate in the world,” Mr Lindarte Montero said. 

“It has become one of the top three most corrupt governments in the world. 

“It is also leading the lowest minimum wage in the Latin American region reaching almost six dollars a month wage.”

Loyalists to President Nicolas Maduro last week launched tear gas at church-goers attending Mass near the Venezuelan-Colombian border.

The attack came during tense political protests between supporters of Mr Maduro and President of the National Assembly Juan Guaido who attempted to gain power through a military coup.

Mr Lindarte Montero said the Church had played an important role in the accurate reporting of the crisis. 

“Through organisations such as Caritas, data about malnutrition (and poverty) is being collected and published while the government does not want to reveal these numbers to the media and international community,” he said.

“What will truly be a challenge is the reconstruction of our institutions and our society. 

“That’s the big challenge we are facing and perhaps that will take more than the solution of just electing a new president. 

“It is extremely important that every single Venezuelan contributes to the reconstruction of our economy, industry and democracy.” 

Cardinal Jorge Urosa, former Archbishop of Caracas, Venezuela, said the local bishops strongly condemned the “immoral” repression perpetrated by the government of Mr Maduro, which, according to the United Nations, has seen at least five people killed in the past few days, three of them minors.

“We maintain our unity, our closeness and accompaniment with the people of Venezuela,” Cardinal Urosa said.

The Unites States and more than 50 other countries have recognised Mr Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela but Mr Maduro’s key allies, Russia and China, disagree.

The two sides have been locked in a stand-off since January with Mr Guaido trying to sway the military, a key player in the country, to switch its allegiance.

On April 30, he called on the security forces to join him in the “final phase” of the removal from power of Mr Maduro, a move the government said was “an attempted coup”.

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