Our MSIA family is a global one, and many people in MSIA live in countries where there are great challenges. This issue of the HGN Bulletin is focused on our MSIA family in Venezuela. Due to the delicate nature of the situation in Venezuela at the moment, names and faces are omitted but their story is important and your loving Light is requested.
Venezuela has been beset by civil unrest, criminal violence, high inflation and scarcity of goods. Since the government is highly dependent on oil revenue, the recent drop in prices is exacerbating the country’s troubles. In the past six months alone, inflation has increased 50% over the past decade and the price of food has increased more than 2,000%. Prices are fixed, leading to distortions: a cup of coffee costs eight times more than a car's tank of gas.
There are many issues facing our Venezuelan family. One Venezuelan minister has told us that there is a serious lack of personal security, which causes her as well as many others to self-impose a curfew after 6-7pm at night. They must also take great care where they circulate. They have access to a map of zones where they can circulate and should not circulate under any circumstances, but the areas where they are safe are very limited.
Fortunately, many of our ministers live in "safe" areas. Even so, they are facing immense difficulties with a proliferation of kidnappings and shootings occurring on a daily basis. One minister must also be careful walking anywhere simply because her hair color makes her a target for "express" kidnappings which happen all the time, as she says. And some ministers have been robbed at gunpoint- fortunately without injury- and one even kidnapped, and fortunately released without harm.
The local supermarkets have long queues when and if milk, coffee, masa (corn flour) (with which to make their delicious arrepas), cooking oil, rice, detergents, shampoo, and medicines are available. Toilet paper makes its appearance weekly or fortnightly or once in a blue moon. Diapers for babies and adults are almost impossible to obtain. Other products take respective turns in disappearing- and some never return! The biggest scarcity and most worrying is the lack of medicines. Also, every day it is more difficult to obtain dollars or any other currency. In addition to all that, the airlines have cut the frequency of flights to and from Venezuela by more that 60%. To find an air ticket one has to buy it outside Venezuela and with dollars (only very few can be found to buy in bolivars).
Last week dozens of people spent the night waiting in line to buy foodstuffs at an outdoor supermarket in north Caracas. It is typical now that people wait upwards of 3-5 hours in lines at supermarkets, being watched carefully by patrolmen with rifles as they rush to gather meats and pantry items. Many people make several trips to supermarkets far out of their way searching for necessities local supermarkets are out of.
The student uprising was very active in our Venezuelan ministers’ areas. One minister had the National Guard right outside the building where she lives and even had tear gas bombs thrown into her lobby. “The scene looked like war,” she said- and this went on for four months. Roadblocks made getting in and out of the area difficult.
In spite of all this, a ministerial project was held to help some of the street children and our beautiful sisters and brothers in Venezuela go to great lengths to help each other individually. For the time being, our Venezuelan ministers are able to stay in contact with each other and support each other in this time of need. They are in touch regularly with the MSIA community through attending monthly Ministers meetings, which they take turns hosting at their homes. One Venezuelan minister has taken it upon herself to help out another minister (who was elemental to the growth of MSIA in Venezuela and Spain) who lives far outside of Caracas- picking her up at the metro station and taking her wherever the meeting is, receiving all of this minister’s correspondence from MSIA (be it postal or through e-mails) as there would be no way would it get to her where she lives and she doesn't have a computer and internet.
At the moment the Venezuelan ministers are able to freely communicate through e-mail with each other on subjects that are not political. Almost all the ministers and MSIA members in Venezuela participate in a daily WhatsApp MSIA group chat set up by one of the ministers where they can communicate between themselves and post info on MSIA activities etc. *(For those that are unfamiliar with WhatsApp, it is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows people to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS, instead using the same internet data plan that you use for email and web browsing.)
Not all is hopeless, though- in fact, the Venezuelan ministers are extremely hopeful. One Venezuelan minister says: “I still manage to be hopeful that we will get through, over and beyond this and that we will become stronger, wiser and more considerate and loving to one and other and definitely more conscious that we need far less to be happy. The Venezuelan humor rises above constantly making jokes out of every situation but some say for that same reason and complacency we are where we are.”
So, what can we do for our Venezuelan family at this time? Not much is needed aid-wise yet, our rep says. However, they do ask for you to please keep Venezuela and her people in a column of Light and in your prayers and hearts and, of course, our group of Ministers and the MSIA community. She says: “Just to know that you all are praying for us and sending the LIGHT will be of great moral support.”
Sent with much Love and Light,
From Paul Kaye HeartFelt President & Skyler Patton HeartFelt Director