Ah, the joys of socialism. Amidst a growing political and economic crisis, 4 million citizens have now fled Venezuela. According to a new report by the UN Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration, the pace at which citizens are leaving the country has been "staggering", rising from 695,000 people in 2015 to over 1 million people since November 2018.
The countries surrounding Venezuela have been forced to put regulatory measures in place to stop the flow of migrants, which will soon be the largest in Latin American history, according to Bloomberg. Should the exodus continue, it could surpass the 6.3 million refugees created by the Syrian civil war.
Over 12 countries met last year to address the flow of migrants that is putting pressure on resources and stoking tensions in the region. A universal policy for dealing with the problem has yet to be enacted and, on Thursday, Peru said it would increase controls later this month by requiring Venezuelans to apply for humanitarian visas before crossing the border.
Colombia remains the primary destination for those leaving Venezuela, and it now hosts 1.3 million people who have fled the country. Peru hosts 768,000; Chile 288,000; Ecuador 263,000; Brazil 168,000 and Argentina 130,000. Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean have also seen an influx of Venezuelan migrants.
Eduardo Stein, the joint UNHCR-IOM Special Representative for Venezuelan refugees and migrants said: “These alarming figures highlight the urgent need to support host communities in the receiving countries. The countries are doing their part to respond to this unprecedented crisis but they cannot be expected to continue doing it without international help.”
Just days ago we reported that Venezuela had defaulted on $750 million in gold-backed swaps with Deutsche Bank. As part of a financing agreement signed in 2016 which we profiled here, Venezuela received a cash loan from Deutsche Bank and put up 20 tons of gold as collateral. The agreement, which was set to expire in 2021, was settled early due to missed interest payments as Venezuela has now effectively run out of foreign reserves.