CARACAS, Venezuela – Venezuela’s bishops met Friday with Juan Guaidó, the national opposition leader who has declared himself interim president, in an effort to mobilize the entrance of humanitarian aid to the crisis-stricken country.
“Today, February 1, we are continuing to coordinate efforts to mobilize humanitarian aid and to assist Venezuelans. We will be allowing the entry of food and medicine,” Guaidó wrote on Twitter.
Guaidó also called upon all citizens and the Venezuelan armed forces to act in the face of the humanitarian crisis the country is going through.
Attending the meeting were the president and vice presidents of the bishops’ conference: Archbishop José Luis Azuaje Ayala of Maracaibo, Bishop Mario del Valle Moronta Rodriguez of San Cristobal, and Bishop Raúl Biord Castillo of La Guaira. Also present was Miguel Pizzarro, a legislator in the National Assembly.
Hoy #1Feb seguimos articulando esfuerzos para movilizar la ayuda humanitaria y atender a los venezolanos. Nosotros sí vamos a permitir la entrada de alimentos y medicinas.
Convocamos a todos los ciudadanos y a la FAN a que actuemos ante la crisis humanitaria que vivimos. pic.twitter.com/KO8pgOlFUd
— Juan Guaidó (@jguaido) February 1, 2019
The leadership of the bishops’ conference had met Jan. 31 with the superiors of religious congregations to address the pastoral challenges of the Church in Venezuela.
Azuaje said that one of the goals of the meeting with religious superiors was to have “a profound encounter of faith, to meet together as servants of the Venezuelan people in the religious sphere and also in the area of human development.”
He affirmed that it was “necessary to propose to all the religious communities some actions that go from the spiritual sphere to the solidarity sphere” and to achieve a joint commitment.
Also participating in the meeting were representatives from the educational field and Caritas Venezuela.
Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro was sworn in for a second term as president Jan. 10, after winning a contested election in which opposition candidates were barred from running or imprisoned. Venezuela’s bishops have called his new term illegitimate, and Guaidó, head of the National Assembly, declared himself interim president Jan. 23.
Guaidó has been recognized as Venezuelan president by the US, Canada, much of the European Union, and several Latin American nations.
Since Jan. 21, at least 40 people have died and hundreds have been arrested amid protests against Maduro.
Since Maduro succeeded Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela in 2013, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval. Under the socialist government, the country has seen severe shortages and hyperinflation, and millions have emigrated.