This week, protesters marched in Caracas, Venezuela, to demand a recall vote against President Nicolás Maduro. Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world, and its economy relies heavily on oil prices, which have drastically declined since Maduro took office. People now face major shortages in basic items such as sugar, flour, and toilet paper. Many blame Maduro for the economic crisis and accuse the electoral commission of delaying a recall vote that could shorten his presidency, resulting in this week’s protest.
God, we lift in prayer the people of Venezuela, who are facing intense and sudden suffering. We pray for a process that honors their dignity and that can lead to true progress in the economic insecurity they now experience.
Solitary Confinement in Canada
In August, an Alberta judge freed three federal inmates from solitary confinement cells, concluding that prison authorities did not consider factors surrounding procedural fairness, aboriginal identity, and mental health history before isolating the individuals. The men felt they were denied detailed rationale for their isolation and, without lawyers, filed an application of habeas corpus, resulting in a judicial review of the decision. The judge ruled in their favor, leading to a rare victory for self-represented inmates and one more step toward limiting the use of solitary confinement in prisons.
God, we pray for an increase in criminal justice practices that restore those who are imprisoned, and we pray that fewer and fewer inmates will experience the torture of prolonged solitary confinement.
Aid for Laos
President Obama is in Laos this week, and he announced Tuesday that the United States would triple its aid to assist in finding and dismantling the 80 million unexploded bombs left over from the U.S. bombing campaign between 1964 and 1973, when the U.S. dropped 2 million tons of bombs on Laos, making it the most heavily bombed nation per capita in the world’s history. Millions of these bombs did not explode, and only one percent of them have been found. 20,000 people, including many children, have died from accidental explosions after coming into contact with these bombs in Laos.
Lord, we lament the suffering that continues to be felt in the aftermath of this little-known obliteration of a small country by a world power. We pray that throughout the world today we might see leaders who are peacemakers and whose policies value human life.
Chemical Attack in Syria
Residents in Aleppo reported that Syrian government forces dropped chlorine bombs on the city this week, killing two persons and sickening more than 120 people. Despite being considered a war crime, chemical attacks have been used throughout the civil war in Syria. In 2013, the United Nations and Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad reached an agreement that all of Assad’s chemical weapons would be destroyed. If the claims of the attacks this week are true—and the UN is now investigating the claims—tension in the city is likely to increase.
God of peace, we lift our fervent prayers to you for an end to this terror in Aleppo. We pray for the vulnerable and desperate people there; come quickly to protect them. We pray that we might see you at work—through government officials, negotiations and peace talks, economic and political pressure—to bring peace in Syria.