Maduro needs to go, says Hispanic Christian leader

Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro is under pressure domestically and internationally.Reuters

The head of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference (NHCLC) has added his voice to calls for Nicolas Maduro to step down as president of Venezuela. 

Maduro has come under international pressure to relinquish power, with the US, UK, Canada, Brazil and Colombia among the countries that have recognised his political rival Juan Guaido as interim president. 

A statement from the British Foreign Office this week said: 'The oppression of the illegitimate, kleptocratic Maduro regime must end.'

President of the NHCLC, the Rev Samuel Rodriguez, said Guaido represented the 'last-best hope' to restore prosperity and the rule of law to Venezuela. 

'The time has come, and indeed is long overdue, for Nicolás Maduro to acknowledge what's already true, that he is now illegitimate and must step down as president of Venezuela,' he said.

'The charge of the nation must be placed back into the capable hands of the National Assembly, the last remaining internationally recognized political body in Venezuela, and the assembly's choice of new interim president, Juan Guaido.'

He said it was time for Venezuela to move on from corruption, oppression and poverty and 'return their nation's future to one filled with hope and promise'.

'We at the NHCLC stand with Venezuelan people as we pray that their beautiful country will avoid any further violence – even civil war – and that its next chapter would be marked by a peaceful transition of power,' he said. 

Pressure has mounted on Maduro after it emerged that troops barricaded a bridge to stop humanitarian aid from coming into the country. 

Tearfund said that partner churches in Colombia are stepping in to help the thousands of people fleeing economic hardship in Venezuela. 

The churches have been assisting families arriving 'tired and hungry' by providing food, healthcare and childcare. 

'There's nothing to eat or drink in the places they stay, and no electricity,' the development agency said.

Pastor Samuel Olson, president of the Evangelical Council of Venezuela, has appealed to Venezuela's Christians to pray 'together as a family, asking God that through His Holy Spirit cares, directs and blesses our nation in this critical hour of its history', Evangelical Focus reports.

Tearfund has released this prayer for Christians to use for Venezuela:

Father God,

We ask you to bring a peaceful resolution to the crisis in Venezuela. For the thousands who have fled to get help – would you keep them safe, healthy and hopeful. And for the friends and family they've had to leave behind, may they also have your protection and provision.
Let there be a quick and peaceful solution to the political conflict, without military intervention. And may Tearfund's partners continue to be able to support Venezuelans in Colombia.

In Jesus' name we pray, amen.