By: Alejandro Rios, reporter
For eight years Venezuela has been under the regime of Nicolas Maduro, and those eight years have taken a toll on the country. Venezuela currently has a starving population, where food is rationed to the people, but there simply isn’t enough. The country is also facing one of the worst inflation crises the world has ever seen, with the inflation rate going as high as 1,700,000% in 2018, with the inflation rate currently at 4,087%. With all of this Venezuelans have been trying to escape the multitude of issues that the country is handling, with the estimated number of Venezuelan refugees estimated to be over five million which is over 16% of the country’s population. But what caused all of this, and where have nearly five million people gone to?
Let’s start with the first question: what caused this? Well, there are multiple factors that caused the Venezuelan economy to collapse. The first is the terrible mismanagement that has been occurring in the nation. Beatriz Montes, a Colombian familiar with the issue said, “Years of mismanagement have led to this. Maduro and his administration are thugs who have stolen from the Venezuelan people.” Venezuela is in a lot of debt with China and Russia. The two superpowers were lending money to Venezuela during its recession which started in 2005 and still continues. Venezuela does not have a way to directly pay these countries back however so they started paying them back in oil and fossil fuels which Venezuela is abundant in. This means that Venezuela is no longer selling oil, but is instead dedicating it all to paying China and Russia back.
Another major contributor to the economic crisis in Venezuela is the United States. The United States has multiple sanctions and embargoes on Venezuela and this has further choked the Venezuelan economy and has caused food shortages and supply shortages throughout the country. Recently the Biden administration released a report where there is an acknowledgment that United States sanctions and embargoes are part of the reason why Venezuela has such a terrible economic state. This is in stark contrast to Trump’s administration which increased sanctions in 2019.
Now to part two of the crisis in Venezuela: where have nearly five million Venezuelan refugees fled to? The answer is quite simple but brings up questions itself, Venezuelan’s have gone to Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Chile, and the United States. The bulk of the load is on Colombia, which has about two million refugees. Colombia itself is a country with a lot of economic and political turmoil, so how has the nation received this. It’s very mixed, with some Colombian’s being more accepting and understanding of the situation and others wanting Venezuelans to be removed from the country. The government of Colombia has taken action to help these refugees by providing them with papers, establishing an open door policy with Venezuelans who are fleeing the Maduro regime. Jorge Rios, a Colombian says, “I think this is a good move from the Colombian government. Venezuela has a lot of problems and these people are just trying to get by. Venezuelans had previously excepted Colombians into their country when Colombia had problems in the 80s and 90s, so we should return the favor.” Colombia is somewhat unique in this move though, with Peru and Chile taking action to stop the influx of refugees, with Peru setting military at its border with Ecuador through which most Venezuelans cross and Chile airlifting 100 refugees back to Venezuela.
The people of Venezuela are suffering, and they see opposition on all sides. Their government neglects them. Some of the nations they try to flee to reject them. Let’s hope that the Biden administration’s move to lower sanctions and Colombia’s newly adopted open-door policy gives them a chance.
As the crisis in Venezuela continues, the people face extreme hardship.