CARACAS – Venezuela’s political, financial and humanitarian crisis will be top of the agenda for the upcoming Summit of the Americas. Leaders of the Western Hemisphere will meet in Lima, Peru, to address increasing concerns about stability in the region.
The situation inside Venezuela has prompted 4.091.717 Venezuelans -as of January of 2018- to leave the country and seek work in the United States, Spain, Colombia, Chile, Peru, Argentina and other parts of South America, according to a study by Consultores 21, an established polling and market research firm. This large flow of migrants is making the issue a top priority for regional powers.
The Trump administration sanctioned Venezuelan Vice President Tarek El Aissami in February, and in the months following both U.S. Vice President Mike Pence and Rex Tillerson, former U.S. Secretary of State, traveled to Latin American countries to discuss the Venezuelan crisis with regional leaders, a move that demonstrates the importance of the situation on the U.S. agenda.
“Venezuelan emigration has become a serious problem,” Milos Alcalay, Venezuela’s former ambassador to Brazil, Israel and Romania, told El Observador. “President Juan Manuel Santos has said that this is one of the most concerning issues in Colombia, and it is the same for Brazil and Panama.”
Over 37,000 Venezuelans arrive in Colombia each day, with an estimated 550,000 currently living in Colombia. The government received 33,865 requests for refuge from Venezuelan citizens last year alone. Panama, which currently hosts over 50,000 Venezuelans, has implemented a visa request for Venezuelans, as it considers them “a risk” to national security, the economy, and jobs.
However, other countries such as Argentina, Peru and Uruguay have adopted friendlier approaches to the situation, and Argentinians consider it a humanitarian effort to help Venezuelans find a home in their territory.
Editor-In-Chief Boris van der Spek is the founder of Chile Today. He worked in Colombia, Surinam and the Netherlands as reporter and works with international media during major events, like the social crisis, the elections and the Pope’s visit.