Sympathizers of the opposition wave a giant Venezuelan flag during a march Saturday against Nicolas Maduro’s government, in Caracas, Venezuela, Feb. 2, 2019. (Leonardo Munoz / EPA-EFE / REX)
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What’s going on in Venezuela? Causes, effects and possible solutions

The Venezuela crisis, also known as the Bolivarian Diaspora, refers to the emigration of around 4 million Venezuelans (around 13% of the world population) out of Venezuela over 20 years, spanning from 1999 to present. 

What are the causes? 

The main reasons for such a large emigration rate are due to political corruption and issues, the underdeveloped economy and the high rates of crime and diseases that are present in Venezuela. 

The Bolivarian revolution launched by former President, Hugo Chávez in 1999, enacted several policies that focused highly on creating a socialist and populist economy funded by high oil prices. However, his attempts backfired due to fluctuating oil prices, leading to the dissolving of many companies due to low revenue and the flourishing of the black money market due to foreign currency control.

According to the IMF (International Monetary Fund), this has damaged the economy greatly, causing hyperinflation, with the estimated rate of 10,000,000% by the end of 2019. Additionally, due to the high rates of corruption present, the crime rates have increased drastically, with a judicial system ranked one of the worst in the world.

Creating change at the political level in Venezuela is also becoming increasingly difficult as the political divide deepens between Juan Guaidó and Nikolas Maduro. Maduro was elected as President in 2013 and was re-elected in 2018. However, this recent election was deemed controversial as reports of vote-rigging and bribing were recorded. Due to this, Guaidó, the Head of the National Assembly assumed the presidency according to Article 233 and 333 of their constitution which gave him the right to do so.

This has led to a political divide as many countries recognize Guaidó as the legitimate president, while many recognize Maduro. The conflict of interests between Guaidó and Maduro makes it virtually impossible to create change at the political level.

How does it affect the countries around?

Due to the varying issues present in Venezuela, a large number of emigrants have left, seeking a better life in many Latin American countries such as Columbia, Peru, Chile, Brazil, Ecuador, and Argentina, along with Mexico and the US. Many countries, especially in Latin America, are hosting huge numbers of immigrants.

According to UNCHR statistics, Colombia accounts for some 1.3 million, followed by Peru with 768,000, Chile with 288,000, Ecuador with 263,000, Argentina with 130,000, and Brazil with 96,000 immigrants. This has led to an overload of immigrants and a huge lack of resources available to them.

The resources present in Latin American countries are spread thin as they welcome large flocks of immigrants each day and attempt to integrate them as part of the country. Many Venezuelans choose to stay in the border states of their host countries in the hope that if the situation seems to reverse in Venezuela, they might return home. However, this is unlikely considering the extent to which Venezuela is currently suffering.

How can the situation be alleviated?

The root of all the economic and social problems apparent in Venezuela is partly due to the political divide. Therefore, if the political divide is alleviated and either Morado or Guaidó is recognized as the legitimate president, the amending of other problems will follow.

Once the political problem is solved, the economy can begin to improve. This can be done by using oil revenues to invest in other industries to battle the fluctuating gas prices, and by replacing Bolivars with another stable currency to battle inflation, due to the low value of Bolivars. By investing in other industries, Venezuela can boost the economy greatly and start paying off the national debt.

Additionally, by replacing Bolivars with a well-established currency, the economy will be stabilized as the value of the currency in Venezuela will go up. Once the economy is stabilized and hyperinflation is reduced, the rate of crime will naturally go down.

What can we do to help?

Although there is not much we can do to solve the root of the crisis in Venezuela, we can still contribute in some way. A great way to contribute is to donate to any of the large numbers of NGOs that are actively helping mitigate the situation. Some examples would be the Red Cross, Pan American Health Organization, Giving Children Hope, etc.

The UNHCR (The United Nations Refugee Agency) website is also a great way to learn more about and donate to the cause.

Lastly, spread awareness. The more people that are educated about the topic, the better.