The situation in Venezuela calls for desperate measures from the international community and neighbouring countries. This region of Latin America suffers from prolonged economical, political and humanitarian crisis that has left this nation’s populous in a distraught state, forcing a significant proportion to abandon their home country and seek refuge in others. As the extent of this refugee crisis came to light, it is said to be the biggest migration crisis in Latin America’s history, now called the Venezuelan Exodus. The country’s long haul of political crisis has driven a multifaceted economic and social emergency with the rising threatening consequences to the large population. Venezuela has suffered a precipitous economic decline under the current government/ Political system, which has left one the historically richest economies in Latin America in a decrepit state.
Strangled by the implosion of an unstable governing body, has led this country into major financial ruin. As hyperinflation, corruption and poverty increases, food and financial security is threatened, rendering it almost impossible for the common man to meet their daily living requirements. As the government fails to create adequate practical solutions, the current political climate has impacted the economy in an almost irreversible manner by falling to a danger zone.
To further elaborate on this ongoing event, this blog will be segregated into 3 parts. Part 1 would discuss the reasons and events that lead to the Economic crisis in Venezuela, Part 2 will explore the Causes from the Political crisis of the country and Part 3 will explore how the scale of the phenomenon, has led Columbia to affirm their solidarity with Venezuela and put forward the role for help in such a humanitarian and economic emergency.
The economic downfall in Venezuela had reached a peak level of intensity since the Nicolas Mauro’s came into power in 2013. Venezuela’s macroeconomic status began to dwindle even before the price of oil began to drop in 2014. (Evan Ellis,2018) Significant drops in imports have created major shortages in food and medication. Within the first few months of 2016 imports were reduced by 40%, a 60% drop from the same period in 2014 which was a 40% drop from the imports in the first quarter of 2012 (Sanderson & Schipani 2016). An overvalued currency and demanding prices on basic goods creates the ideal breeding ground for corruption.
As a result of Venezuela’s economic crisis, smuggling routes to neighbouring countries have begun to emerge along with fierce competitions, which has been an immense concern. The opportunities for smuggling is further increased as the variety of smuggled goods increases, primarily caused due to the exchange rate and price differentials. One example is the smuggling of cattle from Venezuela to Colombia, as meat sells at a much higher rate, almost three folds in Colombia. (Crisis group,2018).
The large-scale effects of the rapid economic meltdown in the nation are most notably felt in the food scarcity. Middle class and the majority of low income families are the most effected populous as soaring prices and mass inflation makes surviving almost impossible. Recent surveys suggest that most of the people hold the government responsible for the unforgiving conditions in the region (Dantanalis, 2016)
As the price of oil, which was one of the major commodities that provided valuable income for the country plummets, and the additional economic mismanagement by consecutive governments over the years has created the highest inflation, skyrocketing poverty index followed by severe malnourishment and disease, has spurred the out migration of the people.
The country’s deep political crisis is brought up by the legitimacy battle between the opposition and the government. After, President Nicolas Maduro came into power, the nation has been driven into an authoritarianism, by creating issues such as marginalizing the opposition-led legislature, shutting down the free press and baring opposition parties from participating in election. In 2017, Maduro generated an illegitimate election for a constituent assembly by braking the constitution democratic order. Critics blame Maduro’s corruption and economic mismanagement for the financial collapse in oil prices. (Crisis group,2018)
Venezuela’s increasing health crisis is also mainly due to the week governing system. Maduro’s has been resistant towards implement policies and reforms that would help the country’s economic stability. Another important element put forward by the behaviour of the Venezuelan government is the influence of ‘Structural Power’, this needs need to be identified to create a more liberal direction that leads to global peace and democracy (O’Brien and Williams, 2016)
The economic and humanitarian predicament of the nation along with mounting political oppression, have forced countless Venezuelans to flee the country. The World Bank has estimated that as of 2018, over a million Venezuelan reside in Colombia. To comprehend the reason behind Colombia’s welcoming and hospitality towards their neighboring incoming refugees lies in a key part of its history.
During the 18thcentury, Columbia and Venezuela were one nation known as ‘Gran Colombia’, which eventually drifted apart giving rise to the modern states of today. years later, Columbia began to experience one of the worst with guerrilla wars. More than seven million people were displaced during this period of unrest. As Columbians fled the war-torn region seeking refuge in Hundreds and Venezuela, where the economy was booming, the two nations reunited. Venezuela continued to offer refuge and welcome Colombians fleeing from the Guerilla war as well.
The refugee crisis compelled the Colombian government to assign more than $3.5 million (U.S.) for health services to the migrants, an aiding service in which even the Colombian locals participated in. The epicenter of this massive migration flow highlights the significance of the Simon Bolivar Bridge that connects both neighboring regions Colombia to Venezuela, over 3,500 people is said to cross this bridge every day in the hope for better living conditions. (Nationalgeography.co.2018)
Prioritizing the prompt incorporation of migrants into the job market, modifying weaknesses brought about by poverty, as well as prompting a dialogue on local, national and regional politics are essential for a successful improvement. The Colombian government has responded swiftly and proactively, taking coordinated measures to facilitate the efficient settlement and incorporation of migrants into their new lives.
It could be said that Venezuela’s collapse is primarily instigated by human creation. The product of misguided political and economic choices and the determination of individual leaders to hold onto their seat of power. Venezuela has the natural and human resources to recuperate, but it will not be able to do so alone. Colombia has responded proactively and has assigned significant assets to help both migrants and the population living in the receiving areas. However, the degree of this relocation entails a better assurance from the international community. The slower the crisis awaits, the slower it will get.
- World Bank. (2018). Despite Challenges, Venezuelan Migration into Colombia can Boost its Growth. [online] Available at: https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/feature/2018/11/06/despite-challenges-venezuelan-migration-into-colombia-can-boost-its-growth [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- Council on Foreign Relations. (2018). A Venezuelan Refugee Crisis. [online] Available at: https://www.cfr.org/report/venezuelan-refugee-crisis [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- Crisis Group. (2018). Venezuela. [online] Available at: https://www.crisisgroup.org/latin-america-caribbean/andes/venezuela [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- BBC Mundo, (2016). “Cuales son los cinco países del mundo con mayor inflación”. [online] Available at:<http://www.bbc.com/mundo/noticias/2016/02/160218_inflaction_venezuela_numeros_listado_global_amv> [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- Smilde, D. and Pantoulas, D. (2016). The Venezuelan crisis, regional dynamics and the Colombian peace process. [online] NOREF Norwegian Peacbuilding resource centre, pp.1-7. Available at: http://www.css.ethz.ch/content/dam/ethz/special-interest/gess/cis/center-for-securities-studies/resources/docs/NOREF-Venezuela%20and%20Colombian%20peace%20process.pdf [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- Swp-berlin.org. (2018). Colombia’s Peace and Venezuela’s Turmoil. [online] Available at: https://www.swp-berlin.org/en/publication/colombias-peace-and-venezuelas-turmoil/ [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- The Collapse of Venezuela and Its Impact on the Region. (2018). [ebook] Dr. R. Evan Ellis, pp.22-31. Available at: http://www.addisonlibrary.org/sites/default/files/The%20Collapse%20of%20Venezuela.pdf [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- Hrw.org. (2018). The Venezuelan Exodus: The need for International Protection and the Region’s response. [online] Available at: https://www.hrw.org/sites/default/files/report_pdf/venezuela0918_web.pdf [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].
- Moodysanalytics.com. (2018). In No Good Hands: The Venezuela Crisis and consequences for South America [online] Available at: https://www.moodysanalytics.com/-/media/web-assets/microsites/2018/economic-model/2018-06-15-venezuela-crisis.pdf [Accessed 13 Dec. 2018].