Italy – Venezuela: Salesian Provincial denounces powerlessness before Covid-19

(ANS - Turin) - Fr Rafael Montenegro, a Venezuelan, has been the Provincial of the Salesians in his country for several months now. At the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, he was in Italy for the Congregation's 28th General Chapter. He was unable to return to Caracas due to the stoppage of intercontinental flights, but from Italy he was still able to carry out his function of supervision and encouragement of their Salesian activity. "The situation in Venezuela has certainly worsened because Covid-19, which affects the whole world, has found my country in a handicapped state," he says.

Official data describe a situation under control.

Many things are hidden, buried away. At this moment, people have to queue for up to three days in a row to refuel 20-30 liters of gasoline. This is very serious for the population, but also for food producers, who cannot reach the big cities from the countryside. In the agricultural area of ​​the Andes, production is being lost because there is no possibility of going to sell it.

Citizenship must stay at home: how does it react?

It is difficult to stay at home because most of our population lives on the day's work: 'with what I earn today I buy food for the day'. People who have a greater possibility can get by, but quarantine cannot work in poor working-class neighborhoods.

The government has always given aid to the weaker classes, also to maintain consensus.

There is still the program to send food to each family, but every time it is more difficult to implement. The State has seen food production decrease and at the same time the financial resources with which to buy products abroad diminish. It is an emergency that is not being acknowledged.

To this must be added the limitation of drinking water, which does not arrive everywhere every day, since maintenance of the aqueducts has not been carried out in the recent past. In many cases, water arrives once a week. If prevention at Covid-19 is also done with the frequency of washing with soap and water, we can understand what is happening in Venezuela.

What are the Salesians able to do in this situation?

First of all, we suffer from the same condition as all Venezuelans: communities have problems with purchasing food. Then, the churches are closed and the activity of the parishes is stopped, and the offers with which we can help the poorest do not arrive.

Schools are also closed: we are trying to replace it with distance learning, and we try to maintain ties with communities through social media, but we know how precarious the web [connection] is.

You are a terminal that receives the echo of the anxieties of this time.

A lady told us that her sister had no money to go to a private hospital for respiratory problems that had arisen for Covid-19. So she went to a public facility, where the necessary devices were, however, lacking. She died without being able to get cured. Situations like these recur every day.


ANS - “Agenzia iNfo Salesiana” is a on-line almost daily publication, the communication agency of the Salesian Congregation enrolled in the Press Register of the Tibunal of Rome as n 153/2007.

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