Venezuela’s Pressing Refugee Crisis

By Thomas Rincon and David Castaneda— Correspondents

Over 6.8 million people in Venezuela have left the country since 2014 due to crisis. They are spread all over the world in search of a safe place to live.

An average of 158 citizens leave Venezuela every day in search of fundamental services such as education, electricity, and water in foreign countries. More than 4.6 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees are living in other Latin American and Caribbean countries. 16% of them have a temporary residence permit, while only 12% have a permanent residence. There are over 6 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees globally, and so far over 763,000 Venezuelans have left home just this year.

Right-wing ideologists say Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro was the cause of hyperinflation— the most significant flaw of the country. The rise of prices is the main reason Venezuela went from one of the richest to one of the poorest countries in the world.

About 50 immigrants from Venezuela— including kids as young as 2 and as old as 70 years old— were sent to Martha’s Vineyard from Texas by the Governor of the state last Friday. “It was a plane ticket they [the Governor] gifted us in Texas, a private flight, and they left us here. But they told us they would welcome us here, help us, give us shelter and work,” said Venezuelan Juan Ramirez, one of the 50 immigrants. 

Those who have safely and successfully left Venezuela struggle to find jobs. Lucky individuals have to work long hours every day so they can pay their bills.

Two Venezuelan migrants, Angela and Sussana left their country in the search of a better life. They agree that immigrants such as them tend to have a hard life ever since they leave. “…is not easy. You got fuh start over new back again. When me been deh Venezuela, yes, meh been get my house and me try fuh make meh-self comfortable, but here, you nah got nothing and you gotta start back new brand again. But it hard because here you got to work hard [SIC],” said Sussana.

Many blame Nicolas Maduro for making Venezuela what it is today. Many say he lacks the education and preparation it takes to lead a country to success. “Since 2013 when Maduro became President, the PIB of Venezuela failed to work 70% of the time, and the country went from having the best goods from petrol and oils to not having goods at all. This is all because of Maduro,” according to Noticias Cibercuba, a popular Venezuelan news source.

Thousands of Venezuelans are suffering from hunger and the lack of medicine. Maria Fernanda Planchez, a former student of Fe y Alegría in Venezuela, says a lack of safety and the fear of the government are what convinced many Venezuelans to leave. People fear their own government more than the thieves, “…[police officers] will extort your goods and they will threaten to plant drugs on you,” said Planchez.

But according to her there are many fair reasons as to why not every Venezuelan has left. “… hope, the fear of abandoning your family, the resources and limitations, many people are going out there and end up dead in one way or another,” added Planchez.

Planchez says 2022 has been a “weird year” so far. “There isn’t a lot of shortage in the markets, but the problem is still the prices,” she said.

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