World
07.10.18

Venezuela and the Desperate Refugee Crisis

Attribution: By Efecto Eco, CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59814740. Source: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oyqm97d4Ydk. Description: Protester facing the Venezuelan National Guard during a protest on the 26th May 2017.

Venezuela is suffering a terrible crisis at the moment with a plethora of issues. The water has been turned off in certain parts of the country and there is an issue with hunger spreading throughout that is having a major effect on citizens health.

The surrounding countries in South and North America are closing their borders to the influx of refugees from Venezuela. This is causing pressure and strain on neighbouring countries to be charitable towards Venezuelan refugees.

The United Nations has projected that over one and half million Venezuelan citizens have left their homeland since 2014. There are many refugees that have made their way to the state of Roraima, Brazil since last year. Other countries like Peru, Ecuador and Chile have also had to manage dealing with a large influx of refugees.

One of the principal reasons why Venezuela has been plagued with hardship and despair is due to the current hyperinflation as well as the collapse in oil prices that happened in the late twentieth century. An article written by Kimberly Curtis published on the UN Dispatch website states that ‘…the stunning drop in oil prices from an average of $109 a barrel in 2012 to just $40 a barrel in 2016 sent the Venezuelan economy into a tailspin’.

Venezuela desperately needs international help from other countries to take on some of the responsibility of the current crisis. As quoted by Forbes, the country ‘defaulted on two of its US dollar-denominated sovereign bond issues’ in November 2017 because of its financial troubles.

According to Reynaldo Trombetta from The Guardian, ‘82% of people live in poverty,’ which is an alarming amount by any standard. The situation has become so desperate that citizens have been witnessed eating out of bins to avoid starvation. There has also been fighting and clashes on the streets throughout the country.

Hugo Chavez put farmland and the manufacturing industry under the government’s control and expanded the presidential powers. All this has contributed to the downfall of the Venezuelan economy. There are clearly deep economic troubles in the country and help is obviously much needed for its people.

Venezuela’s troubles can also be related back to when Hugo Chavez was elected as president in 1998. The country made vast oil profits at the beginning of the twentieth century which did improve the lives of citizens overall; however, trouble started occurring just after 2012.

There has been wide criticism that the government’s administration policies didn’t concentrate on the injustices taking place. This government neglect, which has led to a total breakdown of social and economic policies, has hurt the country immensely. Even the US president’s administration has reacted to the Venezuela leader, Nicolas Maduro, by putting sanctions on his wife and senior figures within the Venezuelan government.

The American government is deeply concerned about how the trouble has escalated into anarchy. Donald Trump said, ‘We have many options for Venezuela and by the way, I’m not going to rule out a military option,’ as cited by the Guardian. 

However, it is not all bad news as Venezuela will increase its oil sales to China, which is prepared to send one million barrels, according to Mr. Maduro after a recent visit to Beijing. This will be a crucial boost for the economy, but there is, of course, still a long way to go before the country can support itself with any semblance of confidence.

China has always been a strongly connected partner with Venezuela and has negotiated a $5bn investment into the country that needs to be carefully used by the government. ‘We are taking the first steps into a new economic era,’ Maduro said, as quoted by the AP news agency. Let’s hope the money will be put to good use to rebuild Venezuelan towns and cities. It is of paramount importance that the government works towards a common goal for the people of the country.

Lee Cross

Global Seven News

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