Venezuelans are currently fleeing widespread shortages of food and medicine, violence and repression. They are hiding en masse in neighboring countries. The UN estimates that more than 2 million Venezuelans have left their countries, by bus, car or on foot, to escape the serious economic and political crisis. That is 5% of the total population. Around the world, the number of Venezuelan asylum seekers has increased by 2,000% since 2014, according to the UNHCR. Colombia alone has registered more than one million people in the last 16 months. Since the beginning of 2017, more than 52,000 Venezuelans have arrived in Brazil, 550,000 in Ecuador and 280,000 in Peru.
However, many Venezuelans are stuck at borders because neighboring countries are making borders more hermetic. Countries such as Ecuador or Peru are now asking Venezuelans to present their passports, which is a document extremely hard to get, requiring a large amount of money that many don’t have. Even though they possibly make it, once there, the reception is less and less friendly. Venezuelans are facing rejection and xenophobia, regularly victims of aggression. In Brazil, which offers the advantage of not requiring a passport at the entrance, clashes took place on August 18, between the local population and Venezuelan refugees in Pacariuma, where the population has increased by 10% in the last three years.
But what is really happening in Venezuela? Since 2013, Venezuela has been facing a series of unprecedented crises. First, an economic crisis: the inflation rate for 2017 was about 2.616%, which represents a collapse of the GDP of around 15%, and the unemployment rate has increased from 7.5% in 2013 to 25.3% in 2017. Then, the political crisis intensified with the policy of Nicolas Maduro, President elected in 2013. Many perceive him as a dictator. We are witnessing a real decline in democracy. In particular, the opposition is muzzled and in July 2017, Maduro decided to dissolve the National Assembly (where the opposition had the majority) in order to appoint a Constituent Assembly which only includes elected representatives in favor of the action of the government.