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Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Venezuelans Head to Colombia as the Country Unravels

As the economic situation in Venezuela continues its downward spiral, it seems that President Maduro is mainly concerned about his political opponents, not the economy. In other words, he's more concerned about his own survival than the survival of Venezuelans. Colombia has been bearing much of the brunt of this, as an increasing number of Venezuelans seek to find work or even longer-term residence in that next-door country. A story in VICE News summarizes the situation:
The crisis can be felt across Colombia’s border, where authorities lament the lack of support in dealing with the tide of migrants that has steadily increased to crisis levels over the last year. In the past three months, the pace of migration has dramatically grown, local authorities say.
Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos called Venezuela his “worst nightmare” during a late-November visit to London. But he’s remained focused primarily on his Nobel Peace Prize-winning efforts to end Colombia’s 50-year civil war, and has largely allowed the crisis on his borders to develop without a clear national response.
Many of the border crossers do so legally, just as many people on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border have passes that allow them to work on the other side of the border. But the situation in Venezuela has the effect of turning many of those people into refugees in Colombia.
The monthly flow of documented migrants — those who get their passports stamped — over this part of the Colombian border more than doubled between June and November, from 47,071 to 95,826, respectively. But those numbers show a small part of the picture. Also in November, more than 200,000 people crossed into Colombia with special border transit ID cards, but never left.
And it is not just people. The smuggling of livestock is also on the rise. While cross-border cattle smuggling apparently has a long history, it has ramped up as the chaos in Venezuela keeps getting worse. Two years ago, I wrote about the situation unfolding in Venezuela and concluded that "[t]he result of population growth in the face of low oil prices in Venezuela will probably be a change of government. It is hard to see how Maduro can hang on." Maduro has been more successful in hanging on than I thought, but Venezuela itself seems to be barely hanging on.

1 comment:

  1. For your interest.