Cucuta, Colombia, Feb 12, 2019 / 17:23 pm
The bishop of a Colombian diocese bordering Venezuela has said that “we can't be still” in face of the Venezuelan people's suffering, and noted that the Church has responded to the humanitarian crisis from its beginning.
Under the administration of Nicolas Maduro, Venezuela has been marred by violence and social upheaval, with severe shortages and hyperinflation leading millions of Venezuelans to emigrate.
Opposition leader Juan Guaidó, who declared himself interim president of Venezuela last month, has been recognized as Venezuelan president by the US, Canada, much of the European Union, and several Latin American nations.
In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA's Spanish language sister agency, Bishop Victor Manuel Ochoa Cadavid of Cúcuta said that when Maduro's government began deporting Colombians in August 2015, the Church in Cúcuta “began its services to the brothers experiencing hardship.”
Since then the Diocese of Cúcuta has been daily serving thousands of people crossing the border through several initiatives, such as the Divine Providence House of Transit.
Bishop Ochoa pointed out that Cúcuta has Colombia's highest unemployment rate: “more than 21 percent unemployment, and almost 75 percent of those employed are poorly paid, under the table." However, “the Church is intervening with humanitarian assistance.”
“We have been helping with this crisis for the last three years. We're doing it, we're helping many institutions in Venezuela. Also with the aid of the U.S. government. We have a medical clinic that serves almost 800 people a day. We're distributing food, we're helping people who are migrating,” he said.
“The emergency has been created, but we've already been helping as a Church,” he told ACI Prensa.