Economic crisis causes exodus from Venezuela

NEWS 20.08.2018 20:04
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Source: REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

According to CNN, thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the economic and humanitarian crisis roiling their homeland are facing increasing hostility from their South American neighbours. Stricter border rules and mob violence have greeted some migrants as they look for refuge from the chaotic situation in Venezuela.

The mass exodus is ratcheting up tensions in countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Brazil even as Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announces the introduction of “a magic formula” to get his country back on track.

The Brazilian government has said it is committed to helping Venezuelans and will continue to try to spread migrants throughout various states in the country.

Meanwhile, a new rule came into effect in Ecuador Saturday requiring Venezuelan citizens entering the country to present a valid passport. Previously, Ecuador accepted other forms of identification.

CNN was present at the border and spoke to some of the migrants. Many were caught by surprise, having started their journeys before the measure went into effect.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) says more than half a million Venezuelans have crossed into Ecuador via Colombia since the start of the year and that the number is accelerating with some 30,000 entering in the first week of August alone.

The Peruvian government has followed Ecuador's lead, announcing Saturday that beginning August 25, Venezuelan citizens who want to enter Peru can do so only with a valid passport. An economic crisis is driving the current mass migration out of Venezuela, where residents now live with food shortages, overcrowded hospitals, inflation and political turmoil.

For now, the exodus shows no sign of slowing.

On Friday, President Nicolas Maduro announced new economic measures to go into effect starting Monday, including a 60-fold increase in the minimum wage that will begin to take effect on September 7. The President also announced that the government was removing five zeroes from the Venezuelan currency — dropping the Bolivar's value more than 90 percent, and launching a cryptocurrency called “Petro.”

Venezuela plans to roll out a new currency Monday, the “Bolivar Soberano,” which will be worth 100,000 “old” Bolivares and was created to simplify transactions in the hyperinflationary Venezuelan economy.

The International Monetary Fund says Venezuela's inflation may hit 1 million percent by the end of the year.