Escape from oil “veins”: a migration accident in Venezuela

Caracas conducted a devaluation of the national currency and announced the launch of a program to restore the economy, which is on the verge of collapse. After the introduction of new economic experiments, Venezuelans impoverished a hundred times. To save the “sinking” economy, the government of Nicolás Maduro decided to devalue the currency by “cutting” five zeros from the national currency and simultaneously raise the minimum wage by 3000%, thus increasing the minimum wage by 30 times. With the introduction of radical economic measures, the Venezuelan leader hopes to “curb inflation”, which, according to forecasts of the world’s leading economists from the IMF, can reach a million percent by the end of the year. Against the backdrop of a new round of the economic crisis in Venezuela, Latin America once again started talking about another outbreak of migration. Why are Latin American neighbors concerned about the worsening migration crisis, which promises to be the largest in the history of the region?

Last week, the bolivar was devalued at once by 96%. If in the beginning of September it was possible to get a quarter of a million bolivars for the American dollar, then after the devaluation, the price of the American currency increased 24-fold and matched with the rate on the black market. The Venezuelan government hopes to put an end to social depression, in which Maduro, in his populist statements, blames the economic war unleashed by the imperialists against the Bolivarian revolution and leftist regimes. Almost every day, Nicolás Maduro appeals to the Venezuelan people from the TV screens, assuring that he has his own unique revolutionary form, which will soon lead the country to feelings.

Since September 14, the Venezuelan leader has started a program of recovery, growth and economic prosperity with the devaluation of the national currency. Henceforth in Venezuela in monetary circulation is not the usual bolivar, but a sovereign one. From the former, it differs by the number of zeros: in a new currency, there are five less than the old one. Cheerful Venezuelans joke that henceforth bolivars will probably be worn in purses, and not carried in a trolley. As the government assures, the new bolivars are “tied” to the petro-cash currency, which in turn refers, as one might guess from the title, to oil prices. To date, one petro costs 60 sovereign bolivars. In addition to devaluation, the program consists of a number of measures: raising taxes, increasing gasoline prices categories of drivers and others. The Venezuelan leader seems to be full of hope or skillfully pretending that he hopes to succeed, each time emphasizing that Venezuela is waiting for a new economic miracle.

However, those who want to share Maduro’s enthusiasm are getting smaller every day. One of the most popular opposition leaders, Henrique Capriles, called Friday on the 15 of September “Black Friday”. Recent opinion polls and statistics have shown that about 90% of Venezuelans live below the poverty line. More than 60%, that is, about two Venezuelans from three wake up in the morning with a feeling of hunger, because they have almost nothing to eat. The opposition fell sharply against Maduro that he brought the country rich in oil and other natural resources to “the greatest tragedy in the modern history of Latin America”.

It should be noted that the fact that the new government program will lead to further hunger, deprivation, inflation, deteriorating living standards of citizens and the situation in the economy, the well-known economists also agree. According to Henkel Garcia, the director of the influential metropolitan consulting company “Econométrica”, this plan, proposed for the restoration of the economy by the current Venezuelan government, can be called a combination of chaotic, ill-conceived and contradictory measures and ideas. The time will tell what the consequences will be, but the majority of the world’s leading economists and analysts agree that there is no need to count on the “bright future” promised by Nicolás Maduro in the coming years.

Such an aggravation of the economic situation again exacerbated the debate about a new round of the regional migration crisis. According to the UN, since 2015, Venezuela has already left about 2.3 million Venezuelans or 7% of the population (and according to other sources – totally, about 4 million people). The main destinations for migratory flows were Latin American neighbors: Brazil, Chile, Peru, Bolivia and Colombia. In the country known for its richest energy resources, outbreaks of epidemics, seemingly already defeated in the 21st century: measles and diphtheria, began due to problems with medicines. The infant mortality rate also increased dramatically. According to official representatives of the United Nations, 1.3 million refugees from Venezuela are clearly undernourished. In their interviews, Venezuelan refugees sadly joke that they run from the “sweet” oil vein, where they have to work a month to earn food, which will last only the next two days. The minimum wage for half of the population is $ 1.5 per month, and, for example, shampoo in the local market costs about $ 5.

Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro once in one of his statements called his fellow citizens leaving the rich oil “vein”, slaves and beggars abandoning their homeland for the sake of foreign “gingerbread”. However, “gingerbread” in a foreign country, Venezuelans have not been offered for a long time.

In mid-September, in the Brazilian town bordering Venezuela with a population of 12,000 people, Pakaraima attacked the tent camp of Venezuelan refugees and set it on fire, forcing over a thousand settlers to return to their homeland. Such an incident occurred after several Venezuelan “guests” robbed and beat a local Brazilian seller of a small grocery store. Similar anti-Venezuelan sentiments are gaining momentum in other countries of the region, where migration flows from Venezuela are taking place.

As early as August, the authorities of Ecuador and Peru, which received more than 20,000 Venezuelan refugees within just one week, announced that they would start using Venezuelan citizens from now on only by passports, and not by ordinary identity cards, like this was before. It is worth noting that the passport is not available to all residents of Venezuela, and its processing as usual could be delayed for many months.

Just one month ago, the Government of Ecuador called on the countries of Latin America to hold an emergency summit dedicated to finding ways out of the unprecedented migration crisis in the region. However, the experience of the European Union, which has been trying to take joint and coordinated actions against migrants from the Middle East and North Africa for more than a year, seems to suggest that the first steps of the intruders of countries suffering from the influx of uninvited guests are likely to be the closure of the borders of Latin American states and the creation of maximum barriers for refugees.

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