Last Monday October 25, 2021, Reuters published an article warning of a potential new crisis on the Colombian border. Nicolás Maduro, the leader of Venezuela’s authoritarian left-wing dictatorship, has announced this month that he will reopen his side of the 1,379-mile border that he shares with Colombia. Due to the reopening of the border by the right-wing Colombian government in June, Colombian refugee camps are bracing for a massive influx of migrants. According to Reuters, many of these refugees are children looking for food, medical help and the opportunity to play again. So how exactly did we get to this point? And what are the implications for world peace in the future?
It might seem hard to believe now, but there was a time when Venezuela was one of the wealthiest nations in South America. Venezuela has historically been able to make this claim because of the large oil fields the nation possessed. While it is well known that oil is a powerful and sought-after commodity, the initial economic blessing Venezuela possessed quickly turned into a curse due to a lack of diversity within their economy. In other words, the Venezuelan economy was closely tied to the price of oil and therefore was extremely vulnerable to external shocks.
In the early 1990s, one of these potential shocks came in the form of Saudi Arabia’s release from pent-up oil production to punish other OPEC members for failing to meet their oil quotas. . This decision by the Saudi government sent the price of oil plunging and the Venezuelan economy plummeted. After the newly elected government of Carlos Andres Perez took IMF austerity measures and removed gasoline subsidies, riots broke out across the country and the Venezuelan government had to impose martial law.
This political instability was the perfect set-up for a charismatic former Venezuelan paratrooper named Hugo Chavez to take the stage. While initially, Chavez was able to maintain popular support by basing himself on leftist politics and forcing OPEC countries to cut oil supplies and thereby stabilize the Venezuelan economy, Chavez quickly started to ruin its short-term economic success with a series of bad – fatal and corrupt economic policies. These policies included disastrous price controls and the replacement of state business leaders with Chavez loyalists.
Chavez’s corruption quickly brought the Venezuelan economy down again. This new economic downturn prompted Chavez and his successor Nicolás Maduro to take increasingly dictatorial measures to retain power. These measures, including media censorship, political blacklisting and imprisonment of political opponents, have only exacerbated social problems in Venezuela, both political and economic. This would ultimately lead to the current situation where over a third of current refugees are children and an incredibly low GDP per capita of around $ 4,000 per citizen. With statistics like these along with constant food shortages, civil unrest and a dictatorial regime, it’s no surprise that Colombia is bracing for an upsurge in migrants.
So what does this mean for the future? Well, unfortunately, if history is to say anything, refugee crises often hit neighboring countries hardest. Colombia is currently working to provide 320,000 special visas to some 1.3 million applicants and with the reopening of the border, this disparity will only worsen. In the absence of papers, refugees are even more vulnerable to human rights violations as it becomes increasingly difficult not only to enforce these rights through the rule of law, but it also becomes much more difficult to monitor these rights. people and provide accurate information updates on their well-being.
That being said, an organization known as the International Rescue Committee is working to do just that. With IRC’s “Play to Dream” centers, migrants and their children not only have access to areas for fun, but parents and children can also receive medical and psychological care. While this can only truly be described as a makeshift measure, it is important to recognize that as citizens of the world we have a moral responsibility to do more and watch this crisis unfold so that we can. provide the most appropriate help and solutions.