Over 1 Million Have Fled Venezuela in Mass Exodus From Failed Socialist Nation
Things have gotten so bad in Communist ruled Venezuela, that what had been a trickle of citizens fleeing the nation, has become a flood as people flee yet another failed experiment in Marxism.
In Lima, Peru, a line of Venezuelan refugees outside the Interpol office already stretches to the end of the block.
Most have just arrived in Lima with not much more than the clothes on their back and are here applying for a certificate to show they have no criminal record, a requirement for a work permit in Peru.
Although Venezuelans for years have been fleeing the “socialist revolution” first launched by the late Hugo Chávez in 1999, in recent months the trickle has turned into a flood as living conditions become ever more dire — from hyperinflation to acute shortages of food and medicine to one of the worst homicide rates in the world.
In response to protests over the once-wealthy country’s seeming demise, President Nicolás Maduro’s increasingly authoritarian regime has cracked down on opponents, making prospects for improved times less and less likely.
While many exiles had fled to the United States, surging numbers, like the Sequieras, now head to other Latin American nations. The change probably stems from President Trump’s tough anti-immigration stance and the fact that fewer Venezuelans can afford the airfare.
From Mexico to Argentina, immigration agencies are reporting skyrocketing numbers of Venezuelan arrivals, doubling and even tripling the total for previous years.
Venezuela, the nation with the world’s largest oil reserves, fleeing citizens reported not even being able to find replacement tires for their vehicles, and a complete lack of basic medical necessities such as antibiotics.
Peru introduced a special temporary visa in February to address the growing humanitarian crisis in Venezuela. Nearly 30,000 Venezuelans have applied so far for the visa, which includes a temporary work permit, USA Today reports.
The exodus from Venezuela has caused tension in some Latin American countries. In Panama, the flood of citizens from the much larger neighbor now competing for jobs has stoked nationalistic sentiment, said Harold Trinkunas, an international security expert at Stanford University who grew up in Venezuela. Panama responded by tightening visa requirements.
Other countries have coped better, particularly Colombia, which has called on its extensive refugee system, originally created to help those displaced from its civil war that recently ended.
Another change is that most Venezuelan immigrants are now simply looking to survive, instead of wanting to send money back home to support family members, said Garrinzon González, who runs the Venezuelan Union in Peru, a self-help group for immigrants in Lima that has nearly 20,000 Facebook followers.
“There’s nothing to buy in the shops in Venezuela now anyway,” he said. “Here you can have a roof over your head and stable work very quickly after you arrive.”
The Venezuelan diaspora is estimated to be about 1.1 million — more than 4% of the population — although the country long ago stopped publishing official numbers. Many hope to return to Venezuela and help their homeland recover once there is a political transition. They don’t know when that might happen, and the longer they stay abroad, the more they put down roots.
Looking to the future, what may hinder Venezuela’s recovery the most are that the majority of those fleeing the collapsing Marxist state are university-educated professionals who play a vital role in the economy.
How long Maduro can cling to power is anyone’s guess, but given the signs, the utter collapse of the economy, and the massive discontent and street protests nearly constantly, it’s likely sooner than later.
Mr Americana, Overpasses News Desk
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