Note: To see some of the video highlights of the Venezuela Conference, please click here.
The Latin America and the Caribbean Office confirmed a suspicion shared by the leadership of the Evangelical Pentecostal Union of Venezuela. A U.S.-sponsored military aggression against Venezuela could be real before the U.S. presidential election on November 3, 2020. Admiral Remigio Ceballos, chief of the strategic, operational command of the Bolivarian National Armed Force (FANB), said that "The international intelligence agencies allied to Venezuela inform us that Colombia is preparing aggression, and the FANB will respond with force and forcefulness to any aggression against the sovereignty and independence of Venezuela, under the command of our Commander in Chief Nicolas Maduro Moros." "We are in the presence of a Colombian government that has attacked Venezuela the most in all our history," he added. Ceballos also wrote on Twitter: During the year 2000, Plan Colombia was installed with 7 U.S. military bases in that country "to prepare its aggression against our nation and the entire region." Days before, Samuel Moncada, Venezuela's ambassador to the U.N., denounced, "Washington's propaganda bodies already promote the invading multinational force in Venezuela. ...It must be with military occupation but without the visible presence of the United States in the front line. It is the armies of Colombia and Central America that will do the dirty work." In another message, Moncada pointed out that the "final phase" of aggression against Venezuela, whose campaign of maximum pressure is already underway, is moving to the military dimension. "They are looking for the 'October surprise.' In Venezuela, we must prepare ourselves for the provocation in the making." See the link: https://www.resumen-english.org/2020/08/venezuela-aggression-in-october/
U.S. Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, visited Colombia recently amid concerns by Colombian political leaders of joint "anti-narcotics" military exercises between the two countries. The 'Poseidon' practices, as they are called, were concentrated in the northern Sucre department of the Latin American nation, a short distance from the United States' Naval Base in Cartagena City. The visit also came amid the on-going scandal caused by the unauthorized arrival of U.S. elite Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB) troops in August. See the following link: https://venezuelanalysis.com/news/15002
Wondering if our Colombian Partners have seen discussions regarding the matter, I had a conversation with the Reverend Pablo Moreno, from the Evangelical Council of Colombia's Peace and Justice Commission. Moreno confirmed the presence of U.S. military advisers in Colombia since last June. Even though the Colombian government affirms that U.S. military advisors are there to combat drug trafficking, the truth is that they accompany Colombian troops to conflictive areas in the country, particularly in places occupied by armed groups, drug traffickers, and neo-paramilitaries. Those places include the border with Venezuela. Also, there have been arrests of armed people who are presented as managers of possible attacks against the government of Venezuela, even "retired" soldiers linked with that kind of plan. Last week, Venezuela's chief prosecutor on Monday accused a recently arrested a U.S. citizen, with alleged ties with the CIA, of spying and planning to sabotage oil refineries and electrical service to stir unrest and kill innocent people. Mathew John Heath is accused of entering Venezuela illegally, along with three other Venezuelans who assist him in penetrating to the country from Colombia. See the link: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/09/venezuela-captured-spy-sought-sabotage-power-grid-200914190535286.html
The General Ministers and Presidents of both the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in the U.S. and Canada and the United Church of Christ and the two Global Ministries' Co-Executives have sent several letters to President Trump condemning any attempt to intervene militarily to Venezuela. On its last message, the leadership of both denominations said that "the people in the U.S. and Venezuela are focused on investing time, attention, and resources to protect their loved ones from COVID-19." They continue insisting that, "as we have already stated in previous communications to you on this topic, we are deeply convinced that any U.S. military intervention in Venezuela would exacerbate the current crisis, and this is only amplified in this time of the global pandemic." See the letter at https://www.globalministries.org/letter_to_president_trump_on_military_escalation_against_venezuela
As October is approaching and along with it, the possibility of military intervention in Venezuela, Global Ministries invites churches and people of goodwill to participate in "Sounding the Alarm: Virtual Conference in Solidarity with Venezuela" to be held on Tuesday, September 29, 2020, 10:00 AM-12:30 PM. In the Conference, the Reverend Dr. Carmelo Álvarez, Mission Co-worker in Venezuela, will share an analysis of our current partnership with the Evangelical Pentecostal Union Venezuela (UEPV) and the challenges of missional accompaniment in times of conflict and the pursuit of justice. Bishop Elida Quevedo, from the UEPV, will analyze the present situation, as seen by our Partner church there. Sister María Eugenia Russán, from the Latin American Ecumenical Foundation for Human Rights and Development (FUNDALATIN), will present a report on the impacts of United States' sanctions against Venezuela. The two Global Ministries' Co-Executives, the Reverend Doctor Julia Brown Karimu and the Reverend Karen Georgia Thompson will talk on "what they saw and heard in Venezuela" from their last visit. Participants will have the opportunity to ask questions and to engage in discussions on how to move forward in our walk in solidarity with the people of Venezuela.
Bishop Eseario Sosa-Rodriguez composed a song called "With Faith and Living Hope" ("Fe y Esperanza Viva"). Some of the verses of this song read as follows:
Nos vamos a organizar, (We will organize ourselves)
con fuerza y sabiduría (with strength and wisdom)
y seguiremos cantando (and we will go on singing)
y luchando por la vida (and fighting for the wholeness of life)
The challenge ahead in Venezuela is about how to best accompany our Partner to affirm their self-determination, in a spirit of peace, justice, and reconciliation. How can we embrace the connection to the processes of affirmation of human rights, social justice, and spirituality of solidarity? We are all invited to look for alternatives to deepen our commitment to the people of Venezuela.