Venezuelan pastor challenges President Nicolas Maduro in elections

A Venezuelan pastor could become the staunchest opponent of President Nicolas Maduro in the upcoming elections in April. Javier Bertucci, who heads the ministry called The Gospel Changes, recently confirmed his candidacy via an internet broadcast.

(REUTERS/Miraflores Palace)President Nicolas Maduro has called for an election for April 22 and a pastor is running against him.

Bertucci is seen as an unlikely opponent to an unpopular leader who still wields power in the South American nation. The pastor has no experience in politics and has largely kept his political views to himself. He has one big mission, though.

"I want to make this nation great," Bertucci said in the internet broadcast. "I want to bring Jesus to this nation, because Jesus dignifies the heart of any believer."

The presidential aspirant shared that Venezuela's problems of shortages in food and medicine, as well as hyperinflation, would be dealt with very quickly if he were to become the country's new leader. He stated he would seek help from other nations in the resolution of its economic problems.

Bertucci is not the first evangelist in South America to go up against traditional leaders in recent times. In Costa Rica, Fabricio Alvarado Munoz, a former gospel singer and journalist, has been leading the election polls against the former minister Carlos Alvarado Quesada, ahead of the elections on April 1.

Meanwhile, Maduro called for the Venezuelan elections last week but claimed that he will win the race and lead the country until 2025. He promised he would restore the country's economy just as he promised to achieve a peace treaty with the National Constituent Assembly.

"Now, I offer to get out of the economic war and achieve [economic] recovery after the elections," Maduro said, according to teleSUR.

The opposition and other big parties, however, declared it would boycott the elections. The opposition has no viable candidate at this point, with the short time Maduro gave for the election preparations. They also doubted that that the process will be fair.

Neighboring countries like Colombia have already stated they will not recognize the election results. The United States and Canada also expressed similar sentiments.