Venezuelan Diaspora Heading Toward 'Humanitarian Crisis'

Poverty, hunger and violence are forcing thousands of Venezuelans to abandon their country – and in some cases their families – in a desperate bid to go anywhere, their prospects for employment and quality of life are less bleak (Panamericana TV, video in Spanish).

The economic, political and social crisis Venezuela has been experiencing under the regime of President Nicolás Maduro (Maduro assumed office in 2013) is causing hundreds of thousands of citizens to leave – an estimated 5,000 per day are fleeing (Seattle Times) – in search of a better life in a country not as plagued by corruption, violence, and poverty. Ecuador has been restricting the entry of Venezuelans due to the arrival of some 4,000 a day, and since August 19 has been demanding Venezuelans produce a passport before crossing the border into the country (BBC).

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Peru closed its border to Venezuelan migrants without a passport on August 25, although thousands managed to enter at the last moment via a humanitarian corridor prepared by Ecuador. The country has begun accepting asylum requests (BBC).

Venezuelan refugee camp in Boa Vista, Brazil
A refugee center housing Venezuelans in Boa Vista, Brazil. Since 2015, more than 56,000 Venezuelans have sought refuge or residency in Brazil. Photo by: Agencia Brasil

No easy solutions

For decades, Venezuela had been a stable destination for foreign arrivals, attracting Europeans with lucrative oil jobs after World War II. A generation ago, it was the richest country in Latin America (CNN). Those days seem like ancient history to many in the country.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) and UN refugee agency UNHCR have called on Latin American countries to ease entry requirements for Venezuelans — more than 1.6 million of whom have left since 2015.

“This is building to a crisis moment that we’ve seen in other parts of the world, particularly in the Mediterranean,” said IOM spokesman Joel Millman (United Nations’ Twitter video).

“We recognize the growing challenges associated with the large-scale arrival of Venezuelans. It remains critical that any new measures continue to allow those in need of international protection to access safety and seek asylum,” said UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi (Deutsche Welle).

Earlier this month, however, a Brazilian judge suspended Venezuelan immigrants from entering the border state of Roraima until conditions for a “humanitarian reception” were improved. Activists called the ruling “absurd.” (The Guardian)

Colombia, Peru, Brazil and Ecuador have agreed to discuss a joint response to the migration crisis in a meeting that will take place in the Ecuadorian capital of Quito on September 17 and 18 (Voice of America, in Spanish).

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