The economic breakdown and political crisis in Venezuela continue to drive people to flee their country. The exodus has escalated in recent weeks with an estimated 43,000 Venezuelans rushing to get into Tulcán via Rumichaca Bridge in the first 14 days of August alone.
United Nations said that 2.3M people have fled Venezuela since 2015. These migrants have crossed the borders of Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru.
José de la Fuente, the regional head of the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR or United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, stated that the number could reach 100,000 by month’s end. He said, “I don’t think anybody imagined a crisis of this size.”
Venezuela president, Nicolás Maduro mocked his fleeing countrymen and called them gullible “slaves and beggars” tricked into cleaning toilets by enemies of Bolivarian revolution:
“I want the country to recover and I have the formula. Trust me,” he said in a televised speech on Friday after announcing a huge currency devaluation which many analysts say will further drive the country deeper into crisis.
Venezuela was once one of the richest nation in South America. It sits on one of the largest reserves of oil in the world. However, mismanagement of its petroleum resources dating back during the time of former President Hugo Chavez has led to the tragic situation the country is in today.
The reversal of fortune has resulted into the largest migrant outflow in Latin America. Neighboring countries have already begun tightening entry rules for Venezuelan migrants.
In early August, Brazil, which has already accommodated tens of thousands of Venezuelans, briefly sealed its northern border with regional authorities declaring they can no longer cope.
The mayor of Boa Vista a town in Brazil said, “If we carry on like this, by the end of the year we will have lost control of the city.”
During the first quarter of the year, Colombia and Chile implemented new measures to prevent more migrants from entering their borders.
This week, Ecuador and Peru announced that they will only allow entry to those who have passports which many migrants do not possess. Ecuador’s decision was prompted by the citizens’ urgent call for action. In Tulcan, Ecuador, the locals have taken to the streets to protest against the arrival of more Venezuelan migrants.