Venezuela (MNN) — Venezuela is in the middle of a hyperinflation crisis. People are leaving the nation in droves, the government is resorting to desperate measures, and the situation continues to spiral.
But how did this all start? According to CNN, the International Monetary Fund estimates that inflation could reach one million percent by the end of the year.
“Basically, the value of your money goes in half every 26 days,” explains Steve Shantz of Trans World Radio. “You might have 500 dollars today, but 26 days from now it’s only worth 250 dollars.”
According to Shantz, “The Venezuelan government believes there is an economic war against Venezuela and that the problems that they have were brought on by external forces rather than internal ones.” As a result, they’re looking for internal solutions.
“In order to stem this inflation, they basically knocked five zeroes off the currency. Then they issued new banknotes that are called Sovereign Bolivars.”
These new replacements for the Strong Bolivars are tied to a cryptocurrency called the Petro. The Petro, in turn, is tied to oil reserves. In theory, the new currency will “stem hyperinflation and solve their economic problems.”
But the people of Venezuela aren’t so convinced.
“This is leaving a lot of people in the country confused because they don’t know what this is going to mean, they don’t know how they’re going to be able to buy and sell,” Shantz says. People are going hungry and losing their jobs, so they’re resorting to evacuation.
“People just don’t see hope in the present situation. They’re looking for relief, so they’re going to Ecuador and Columbia and Peru,” Shantz says. Some people have even made it down to Chile and Argentina looking for jobs and “a better way of life.”
These are people who want to be able to meet basic needs while everything around them is crumbling. More than ever, the people of Venezuela need hope.
And Trans World Radio knows where they can find it.
“What we try and do in this situation is bring people back to the Word of God and try and bring people a message of hope through God’s Word that God is in control in these situations in spite of what they see around them,” Shantz says.
“We try and bring a message of hope. We do not bring a message with a political viewpoint. We don’t try and create unrest or discontent in people’s lives, but we try and bring them to the scriptures and show them that God is what they need in their lives to help them navigate these times.”
Want to help? Pray for Venezuela as her people stumble toward stability, and learn what you can about the situation as it unfolds.
“I think it’s very important for [anyone] in North America who knows the Lord and has a compassionate heart to start following the news, if you’re not already, and really track what’s going on in Venezuela,” Shantz says.
Hundreds of thousands of people are fleeing Venezuela on foot. Most don’t know if they’ll even be able to enter other countries.
“One of the developments is that [some countries], Ecuador and Columbia I believe, are now saying ‘you need a passport to cross the border, not just an identity card,’” Shantz says.
“Pray for these people as they’re on the road trying to have their basic needs met. Pray that there will be people of compassion along the way that will help them, that will give them food and assistance and shelter for the night.”
TWR’s Venezuela team is still working in the country, using generators to create and send programming to TWR for distribution. They’re also holding “radio rallies” for kids to help them learn about the Gospel and find joy in the middle of hardship.
Header photo courtesy of Jorge Andres Paparoni Bruzual via flickr at https://www.flickr.com/photos/venex/2155381419/in/photostream/