elecciones7Oenbilbao

Punto de encuentro de Venezolanos votantes en Bilbao

Archivos por Etiqueta: Crisis humanitaria

Comunicado del Gobierno de España – 21 de Mayo 2018

ELECCIONES EN VENEZUELA

Respecto del proceso de elecciones presidenciales y a consejos legislativos regionales desarrollado en Venezuela ayer día 20, el Gobierno español desea hacer las siguientes consideraciones.

En línea con lo indicado en la Declaración de la UE del pasado 19 de abril, para la celebración de elecciones libres, transparentes y creíbles era condición necesaria la concurrencia de una serie de elementos:

  • -participación en igualdad de condiciones de todos los partidos políticos y de todos los candidatos
  • -una composición equilibrada del Consejo Nacional Electoral que garantizara su imparcialidad
  • -un calendario electoral viable y acordado con las distintas fuerzas políticas
    -el despliegue de misiones internacionales independientes de observación
    -todas las garantías técnicas requeridas por los estándares internacionales.

Resulta evidente que en el proceso desarrollado en la jornada de ayer no se verificaron esos requisitos indispensables. La consiguiente desconfianza de una mayoría de los ciudadanos venezolanos en el proceso electoral, se ha traducido en una elevada abstención, que recogen incluso las cifras oficiales de participación.

A las deficiencias democráticas fundamentales de las que se partía, hay que sumar las graves irregularidades denunciadas por candidatos opositores y diversos sectores de la sociedad civil respecto del desarrollo de la jornada de ayer.

Por todo ello, de conformidad con lo señalado en la citada Declaración de la UE, España estudiará junto a sus socios europeos la adopción de medidas oportunas.

El gobierno de España no puede permanecer ajeno a la grave situación en Venezuela, que afecta a los casi 200.000 ciudadanos españoles que residen en el país, al conjunto del hermano pueblo venezolano y a los países iberoamericanos y caribeños que reciben la creciente emigración provocada por esa grave situación.

El gobierno de España llama de nuevo al gobierno venezolano a dar los pasos necesarios para una solución democrática, pacífica y negociada entre venezolanos, en el marco de su Estado de Derecho. En estrecha concertación con nuestros socios internacionales, apoyaremos aquellos intentos de negociación aceptados por todas las partes, en los que se demuestre con hechos la voluntad genuina de contribuir al regreso de Venezuela a la institucionalidad democrática, al respeto de los derechos humanos y libertades fundamentales y a la búsqueda de soluciones que palíen la grave crisis humanitaria que afecta a la población venezolana.

Entre tanto subsista dicha crisis humanitaria, el gobierno de España seguirá articulando distintas medidas para paliar el sufrimiento de los ciudadanos venezolanos.

 

Declaración del Gobierno de Chile respecto al proceso electoral en Venezuela – 20 de Mayo 2018

OPEC High Risk Venezuela – Energy Economist – 18 de Mayo 2018

 

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In this issue we will address the accelerated fall in Venezuela’s production and the probability of Maduro’s demise. Two months ago we said, “Most analysts see Venezuela at the greatest risk for a supply interruption, and there is a growing consensus that President Maduro will not survive the year in office. Even if he does, Venezuela’s production will probably drop 25% in 2018 due to the lack of investment by PDVSA in new wells.”

Oil Production

We will address production first and under the assumption that Maduro remains in power. Current production is estimated at 1.47 million barrels per day by the EIA and 1.44 million b/d in OPEC’s Monthly Oil Oil Market Report. Venezuela reported its production for April at 1.51 million b/d. The graph below charts the EIA’s estimates which may be a little high. based on that data April production is down 460,000 b/d (24%) from the 2017 average of 1.93 million b/d. April production is down 180,000 b/d (11%).

Venezuela’s production fell almost 2 million b/d in the Chavez and Maduro administrations.

Chavez diverted money from drilling new wells and maintaining refineries and other petroleum infrastructure to fund his social programs. Maduro continued these policies. Many production and service companies had some or all of their assets seized and others not paid.

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At least 20% of PDVSA employees have recently left because of insufficient wages or concern about safety. Refineries are in disrepair and PDVSA has insufficient quantities of light crude, naphtha or diluents to inject into wells to reduce the viscosity of the heavy oil in the Orinoco Belt so they can bring the heavy oil to the surface. Visualize mixing roof tar with a solvent to the point that you could easily pour it. Venezuela cannot afford to buy diluents and its refineries are in such disrepair that it cannot make it.

Furthermore, ConocoPhillips has won litigation against Venezuela which has allowed it to seize products from Isla refinery PDVSA runs on Curacao. This may be the source of some of the products used to dilute Orinoco crude. In any case, there will be shortages and further accelerate the decline in production.

In Lake Maracaibo, the source of more conventional crude, about 75 companies were nationalized nine years ago. The number of vessels and workers dropped over 75 percent and production fell from over a million b/d to under 400,000 b/d.

If Maduro remains in office after Sunday’s election we expect production to fall below a million b/d as early as the end of the third quarter. If its refineries were running at a high enough capacity to satisfy domestic consumption, they would consume something less than 800,000 b/d leaving about 200,000 b/d for export. Even at half that level for the refineries exports of 600,000 b/d which most needed to repay loans from China and Russia leaves little to run the country.

Maduro

Elections are this Sunday. Maduro has sidelined opposition candidates that would certainly beat him in a fair election. Many Venezuelans are not voting either because he will not let their candidate run or because they fear that Maduro is able to monitor their votes. The fear is that if they vote against him the modicum of subsidized food that they are able to purchase will be cutoff.

Inflation is estimated by the IMF at 13,865%. Many of the buses are not running. Most Venezuelans families do not have sufficient food and medications are not available. Muder rates are the highest in the world.

Given that situation we wonder how Maduro could win against even the weakest candidate in any fair election. The answer is probably that he couldn’t except for corrupt officials and military and government employees that fear losing their jobs.

If he is reelected, we still do not expect his rule to last another year. Maybe, he is planning an exit strategy. Otherwise why has “PDVSA has bought nearly $440 million worth of foreign crude and shipped it directly to Cuba on friendly credit terms” when the citizens could use the food it could buy. See As Venezuelans suffer, Maduro buys foreign oil to subsidize Cuba

Maybe Maduro expects to need refuge in Cuba.

Conclusion

Venezuela is in a humanitarian crisis. Maduro’s continued shipments of oil to Cuba only make sense if the sales are to leave an opening for him in exile. Conditions in Venezuela are much worse than Cuba and yet he is still sending them oil.

There is sufficient spare capacity between OPEC and Russia to cover lost production. It is on track to exceed losses from Iran due to sanctions. Sanctions and external forces are cutting into production in some places while US production grows at record rates. We expect that in the future, lower prices can be added to the problems faced by Venezuela and OPEC.

As Venezuelans go hungry, their government holds a farcical election – The Economist – 17 de Mayo 2018

The danger to Nicolás Maduro’s rule begins after election

IF VENEZUELA were a democracy, President Nicolás Maduro’s bid to win reelection would certainly fail. He leads a regime that has been in power for 19 years. Its economic policies have made life intolerable for most of the country’s 34m citizens. Food is in short supply, and nearly 90% of Venezuelans say they do not have enough money to eat properly. The contraction of the economy is the biggest in the history of Latin America. Prices are doubling nearly every month. At least a million people have left the country in the past four years.

Yet almost nobody thinks the president, who looks as well fed as ever, will lose the one-round election scheduled for May 20th. At rallies of loyalists and dragooned 5/18/2018 As Venezuelans go hungry, their government holds a farcical election – A police-state poll https://www.economist.com/the-americas/2018/05/19/as-venezuelans-go-hungry-their-government-holds-a-farcical-election 2/5 state workers held in barricaded streets, Mr Maduro talks of getting 12m votes, even more than Hugo Chávez, the charismatic founder of Venezuela’s “Bolivarian revolution”, who died in 2013. To suffering voters he promises relief. “I am ready to make a change,” he said on May 11th.

The fact that few voters believe him does not matter. The “independent” electoral commission is a puppet of the regime. After regional elections last October, it refused to investigate evidence of fraud. Smartmatic, the company based in Britain that supplied Venezuela’s voting machines, has withdrawn its staff. It said that results in a vote last July for a new “constituent assembly”, whose main purpose is to circumvent the opposition-controlled legislature, had been “manipulated”.

But Mr Maduro may not have to steal the election on the day to win it. The regime has arrested the most prominent leaders of the opposition or banned them from politics. Others are in exile, leaving the opposition leaderless, divided and demoralised. Little is left of the hope and fury that animated protests against the regime last year, in which at least 163 people died.

In last year’s regional elections the government placed booths at polling stations where voters were required to renew their electronic “fatherland cards”, which entitle them to receive subsidised food. Nearly 70% of the population gets such subsidies. Mr Maduro is again suggesting that the government will exchange food for votes. “Whoever goes to vote with their fatherland card is going to get a big prize from the country, because we give and give,” he said on May 14th.

Henri the hopeful

Talks aimed at establishing conditions for a fair election between the regime and the Democratic Unity roundtable (MUD), the main opposition grouping, broke down in February. Most opposition parties then decided to boycott the vote. They have international support. The “Lima group” of 14 countries, including Brazil, Colombia, Mexico and Canada, has said it will not recognise the election result. Mike Pence, the United States’ vice-president, has declared the election “fake”. Even the election date, set by Mr Maduro, points to its spuriousness: his term ends in January. In countries where incumbents could lose, they do not linger in office for nearly eight months.

Mr Maduro faces enough opposition to provide the illusion of a real contest. Henri Falcón, a former ally of Chávez who then became an opposition governor of Lara, a north-western state, broke ranks with the MUD to run against the president. Another challenger is Javier Bertucci, an evangelical pastor who draws huge crowds to rallies with the offer of free soup.

A recent poll by Datanálisis suggests that Mr Falcón should win. It puts his support at 28% of registered voters. Mr Maduro and Mr Bertucci are roughly even at 17% each. Mr Falcón’s chances depend on anti-Maduro voters overcoming their sense of hopelessness to turn up at the polls. That is unlikely to happen, especially without the backing of parties in the MUD. A poll last month by Datincorp suggests that 38% of the electorate will not vote.

Boycotters say Mr Falcón is giving legitimacy to a fraudulent election and undermining international condemnation of it. He denies doing this. He says he had no hesitation in putting his name forward. “Every authoritarian, neodictatorial regime is fraudulent by nature, but can be defeated,” he says. “Today the conditions are in place, like never before, in favour of a political change in Venezuela.” Mr Falcón cites as a precedent the referendum called in 1988 by Augusto Pinochet, Chile’s dictator, to extend by eight years his 15-year rule. Pinochet lost.

Mr Falcón hopes to improve his chances by exploiting divisions within the government. He has offered to govern with pragmatic members of the regime who see the need for taking steps to avert economic and humanitarian disaster.

His economic adviser, Francisco Rodríguez, a former Wall Street banker, proposes replacing the debased bolívar with the dollar to end hyperinflation and the economic slump. To work, dollarisation would have to go along with cuts to the massive budget deficits that cause inflation and with help from international bodies such as the IMF.

Mr Maduro’s proposal for dealing with hyperinflation is simpler: just knock three zeros off the bolívar. He says the new “sovereign bolívar” will replace the “strong bolívar” on June 4th.

He will probably stay president long enough to make this happen. But threats to his rule are mounting. Oil production by state-owned PDVSA, practically the only source of foreign exchange, has dropped by 30% since 2014 because of incompetent management and inadequate investment. The United States bars American investors from accepting new debt from PDVSA and the government in exchange for bonds on which they have defaulted. Bondholders are preparing to take legal action against both debtors. In April the International Chamber of Commerce awarded $2bn to ConocoPhillips, an American oil company, to compensate for the nationalisation of its operations in Venezuela in 2007. The American firm has begun to seize PDVSA’s oil stored in the Caribbean.

Cracks within the chavista government are widening. The former ambassador to the UN (and head of PDVSA) and the former attorney-general are in exile. They accuse Mr Maduro of corruption and crimes against humanity. Most of his main advisers are subject to sanctions by the United States and the European Union for drugtrafficking or undermining democracy. These could become harsher and target more people. The government has jailed some 60 officers in the army, whose support is vital to the regime’s survival. The charge, it is thought, is that they plotted against it. On May 11th the president of neighbouring Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, predicted that “a change in the regime” will happen “very soon”. That could open the way to the sort of hybrid government that Mr Falcón envisages.

Mr Maduro has surprised people who wrote him off as a bumbling heir to the clever, charismatic Hugo Chávez. His vivisection of the opposition and ruthless exercise of power have put him in position to win re-election, despite a record of governance that would destroy most presidents. But he cannot defy for ever the laws of economics or the international coalition ranged against him. His victory on May 20th may be not only fake, but fleeting.

Santos anuncia decomiso de 400 toneladas de comida “Clap” – La Patilla – 17 de Mayo 2018

unnamed-7.jpgEl presidente de la República de Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos, anunció el decomiso en Cartagena de 400 toneladas de alimentos importados “no aptos para el consumo humano”, que iban a ser repartidos a través de los Comités Locales de Abastecimiento y Producción en Venezuela, así como también una red de corrupción internacional.

“Ayer, 16 de mayo, la Policía Fiscal y Aduanera, la Dian y el Invima decomisaron en Cartagena casi 400 toneladas de alimentos no aptos para consumo que iban a ser repartidos por esos comités políticos de control social en Venezuela”, declaró Santos.

“Esta es la punta del iceberg de un negocio despreciable que involucra empresas de fachada en Colombia, México y muchos otros países”, apuntó.

“En el marco de la investigación que permitió este decomiso hay evidencias de posibles delitos de corrupción, lavado de activos y enriquecimiento ilícito”, señaló.

“He solicitado a la Policía Nacional y la Dian entregar todas las pruebas recolectadas a la Fiscalía General de la Nación –con quien hemos venido trabajando—para que avance la investigación, en la que también están colaborando autoridades de otros países”, afirmó Juan Manuel Santos.

“Presidente Maduro, a nombre de la comunidad internacional, a nombre de los venezolanos que sufren cada día, le insto, le pido, que permita el establecimiento de un canal humanitario para que organizaciones acreditadas, legítimas y transparentes puedan brindar ayuda y asistencia a los venezolanos que padecen la escasez y el hambre que su régimen ha producido”, explicó Santos.

“Es tal el estado de negación de la crisis, que Maduro está diciendo no sólo que no hay éxodo sino retorno de nacionales a Venezuela. La verdad es que han llegado a tal situación, que los llamados colectivos han sido autorizados a que saqueen residencias familiares para robarse la comida”, finalizó.

La incautación, adelantada el 30 de abril por la Policía Fiscal y Aduanera (Polfa), y por la Dijin, se produjo en la zona de aforo del muelle Contecar de Cartagena, e implica a dos compañías y a un ciudadano venezolano, reseñó El Tiempo.

Allí se encontraron 15 contenedores de 40 pies que contenían las cajas, repletas de fríjol, arroz, aceite, atún, pasta y lenteja en alto grado de descomposición.

Los contenedores llevaron a la Polfa y a la Compañía Antinarcóticos de control portuario hasta la empresa Aurum Exim SAS., cuyo representante es el ciudadano venezolano Luis Francisco Sagarzazu.

 

Asalto a la cotidianidad – Editorial Revista SIC – Mayo 2018

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Cualquiera que con ojos externos llega a nuestro país se pregunta: ¿Cómo hace la gente para sobrevivir? La situación es tan caótica que la pregunta cobra una absoluta pertinencia. Sobrevivir en este valle de lágrimas llamado Venezuela es un milagro. No hay condiciones objetivas para semejante proeza. El venezolano de a pie cada día, desde sí, tiene que poner el piso para crear las mínimas condiciones que le garanticen un día más. Vive al día, no hay otra manera de estar. La incertidumbre no es solo existencial, política, económica, social, es sobre todo, biológica: vida o muerte.

La crisis ha quebrado la mínima regularidad de la cotidianidad. En un barrio cualquiera, el día puede transcurrir así: José se levanta, va al baño y no hay agua; se puede llegar a estar hasta 20 días sin agua. Hace sus necesidades fisiológicas y no hay papel; o porque no se consigue o porque es muy caro y no lo ha podido comprar. Si tiene suerte con el agua, debe administrar muy bien el jabón, al punto que, por los costos, va guardando las cascaritas de jabón para después juntarlas y hacer nuevos jabones. Algo parecido pasa con el dentífrico, al final se rompe para extraer el mínimo de crema dental. Si se va a afeitar, lo hace a secas porque la espuma es un lujo. La afeitadora “desechable”, la cuida para prolongarle al máximo la vida útil. Sale del baño y va a la cocina, tal vez no tenga qué desayunar y, además, junto a su esposa, ante la insostenible y escandalosa hiperinflación, han decidido suprimir el desayuno, y en la medida que crece la hiperinflación irán viendo como reajustan los ritmos de comida hasta quedarse con una sola al día o, tal vez, espaciar aún más su dieta personal para priorizar a sus hijos.

Literalmente: quitarse el pan de la boca para que sus hijos coman. José trabaja en un comercio al otro lado de la ciudad y por su antigüedad gana algo más de un salario mínimo. Por falta de un sistema de transporte público que funcione adecuadamente, para llegar a tiempo a su trabajo sale de su casa a las 5 de la madrugada. La flota del transporte público ha disminuido o porque no hay repuestos o porque los propietarios no tienen el poder de compra para reponer y rehabilitar los vehículos averiados. Mientras, el Gobierno habla de guerra económica y sabotaje por parte de los conductores. En consecuencia, José tiene que recorrer 3 km caminando hasta llegar a la parada de los jeepses. No lo hace solo, varios vecinos se juntan para cuidarse entre sí y protegerse de la delincuencia que, ante la desprotección e impunidad por parte del Estado, roban celulares y, también, en ocasiones, loncheras. Una vez que llega a la parada debe esperar entre 30 minutos y 2 horas para montarse en el jeep que lo trasladará al metro. Ante la reducción de la flota del transporte por avería de los vehículos, han comenzado a aparecer camiones que hacen el servicio de transporte público. Las imágenes son dramáticas, la gente va como mercancía y los costos del pasaje son altísimos.

María, la esposa de José, es empleada doméstica. Se ocupaba de hacer servicio de planchado en casas particulares de algunas familias del este de Caracas. Ya no trabaja a diario como lo hacía antes, esto, por dos razones: la primera porque las cuatro familias donde hacía su servicio doméstico de planchar, se fueron del país y perdió su fuente de trabajo. Ahora hace servicio en el barrio, pero la paga no es la misma, a veces plancha por un plato de comida que guarda en un perolito para llevarlo a casa y compartirlo con su familia. La segunda, debido a la crisis de movilidad urbana y la falta de efectivo está prácticamente confinada a su sector. Hace poco se reunieron en familia para organizarse, pues ante la falta de efectivo y la hiperinflación, no le dan los números en sus finanzas para correr con los gastos del pasaje de todos. Ahora, los niños que antes tenían transporte particular, van a la escuela a pie. Para llegar tienen que caminar alrededor de 3 Km, y lo hacen, sobre todo, porque en la escuela funciona un comedor y pueden comer, de lo contrario desertarían de la escuela. María y José no tienen cómo sustentar el hogar, lo que ambos ganan, no les alcanza ni para medio comer; sus hijos, como niños que son, juegan futbol con sus zapatos, pero María y José no tienen como vestir a sus hijos porque un par de zapatos, de baja calidad, vale en el mercado más de diez salarios mínimos.

Bueno, el regreso a casa, después de la jornada de trabajo es otra odisea. Todos andan desesperados por llegar. En la boca del suburbio, donde se hace la cola (fila) del transporte público, hay unos tales fiscales (informales que hacen de intermediarios ente el conductor y el pasajero), que controlan y organizan discrecionalmente el acceso a las unidades de transporte e imponen, según su criterio, el costo del pasaje. Los costos del pasaje, impuestos por estos irregulares, son insostenibles para la economía familiar. José, se ha organizado con otros vecinos, para juntarse a una hora determinada y subir a pie, tres veces por semana, desde la boca del suburbio a la punta del cerro donde vive. Llega extenuado a su casa, con el estómago vacío, rezando para que haya electricidad y no encontrar su calle y su casa a oscuras. Este año, los apagones han sido el pan nuestro de cada día a lo largo y ancho del país. Muchas de las protestas han tenido como tema la electricidad, el agua y la salud. María, su mujer, lo recibe y le sirve una arepa. Le comenta que a la vecina, quien tiene su hijo en Chile, le llegó la primera remesa y gracias a eso pudo comprar unas harinas y, para celebrar la buena nueva, por agradecimiento y solidaridad les regaló unas arepas. Conversan un rato. María le cuenta que hoy fue a comprar la bolsa de comida del clap y pasó 4 horas esperando pero regresó sin nada, al final no la vendieron porque al parecer llegaron incompletas y la gente protestó por el abuso, tal vez mañana la vendan. María le comenta a José que su hermano Juan se va del país la próxima semana, porque no consigue el tratamiento para su hijo que convulsiona. José se inquieta y piensa, “varios de mis amigos del trabajo han renunciado esta semana porque también se van. Yo también lo estoy pensando. Los medicamentos de mi vieja no se consiguen, y esto que estamos viviendo no es vida, pero no es fácil empezar de nuevo”.

Y es que los más amenazados y vulnerables en medio de esta situación son los enfermos crónicos, especialmente los niños, ancianos y enfermos psiquiátricos, quienes en medio de esta situación se han visto obligados a tomar ellos mismos las calles con la consigna “no queremos morir”. Recientemente, las madres de los niños que padecen de cáncer salieron a la calle junto con sus hijos, para exigir un trato digno y respeto a la vida; ellos, quienes deberían estar protegidos por las instituciones públicas. Sus familiares emigran para, con el auxilio de las remesas, poder acceder a los medicamentos y sostener su tratamiento. Mientras, el Gobierno, inescrupulosamente, se empeña en negar la ayuda humanitaria afirmando, desde su ideología, que en Venezuela la gente vive en el mejor de los mundos.

Escape From Venezuela: Refugees Banging On Doors For Food by Tim Padgett – WLRN – 15 de Mayo 2018

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CÚCUTA, COLOMBIA | This is what the Venezuelan refugee crisis sounds like: the fists, knuckles and open palms of destitute – and above all hungry – Venezuelan migrants pounding on the metal gates of humanitarian relief stations here in the Colombian border city of Cúcuta.

Inside the Roman Catholic Scalabrini church mission, the U.N.’s World Food Program is signing up as many Venezuelans as it can for food stamp benefits, or bonos. But the waiting, clamoring crowd outside is simply too large and chaotic. An elderly woman faints in the mid-afternoon heat and, as mission workers press to keep the rest from entering, she’s brought inside to sit down and drink water.

“We never thought the situation would get this overwhelming,” says Scalabrini coordinator Gladys Garavito as she fans the woman. “They need these food stamps so they can use what little money they have for a place to sleep tonight.”

Outside, that’s exactly what’s worrying Zuleima Villalba.

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BANGING ON GATES Thousands of Venezuelan migrants crush forward for UN food stamp benefits at the Centro Cristiano in Cucuta, Colombia, this month.

Villalba arrived in Cúcuta a month ago from Maracay, Venezuela – almost 500 miles away – with her husband and three young children. While holding one of them she manages to show me the cell-phone earbuds the family’s selling on Cúcuta’s streets in order to eat and pay daily rent for a small room near the airport.

It isn’t enough. Wiping away tears, Villalba says she fears they’ll soon be sleeping on the street, as thousands of Venezuelans do in Cúcuta these days.

“You abandon your life and your home to come here and this is what you face,” she says in a voice as worn down as her face. “But going home is not an option, either.”

That’s because back in Venezuela there is even less – or as Villalba puts it:

“Ya no hay” – there is nothing left. “No food, no medicine,” she says. “And even if you can find it, you can’t pay for it.”

Villalba and her mechanic husband, whose wages were decimated by hyperinflation, decided to leave Venezuela because their kids were seriously underweight. The average Venezuelan lost 24 pounds last year due to an economic catastrophe caused by collapsed oil prices and the mismanagement of a dictatorial socialist regime.

That humanitarian crisis has launched an epic wave of migrants. By the end of this year an estimated three million people – a tenth of the population – will have left Venezuela since 2015. Most are pouring into neighboring countries like Brazil – and especially Colombia.

The most recent Venezuelans that are coming, they are in the worst situations. Now is really the escape of the desperate. –Ricardo Suppo

Each day an endless stream of some 20,000 Venezuelans crosses the Simón Bolívar International Bridge into Cúcuta. Some come for food, then return. Some go on to countries like Ecuador. But about 5,000 of them stay in Cúcuta. Indigents like Elio Merciett, an appliances salesman from Barquisimeto, Venezuela. He arrived in Cúcuta three months ago but still sleeps on cardboard every night in a park near the border crossing. What little he earns at odd jobs often gets stolen.

“I was the last man in my neighborhood to leave the country,” Merciett said. “If I go back now my wife and little boy will be ashamed of me.”

“The most recent people that are coming, they are in the worst situations,” says Ricardo Suppo, a World Food Program coordinator in Cúcuta who’s alarmed by the condition of the Venezuelans he’s seeing now.

“Children with skin disease, hair turning blond, losing color, losing hair,” Suppo says. “I mean these are the first signs of malnutrition. And you’re seeing more and more. Now is really the bottom of it. Now is really the escape of the desperate.”

Even so, the U.N. is not formally declaring that desperate exodus from Venezuela a refugee crisis, which could raise the situation’s global profile. This year it did urge countries receiving Venezuelans to grant them certain refugee safeguards such as healthcare, jobs and protection from deportation.

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A Colombian man wearing a sign that reads “We Buy Hair” shouts for business from Venezuelan migrant and refugee women at the border crossing in Cucuta, Colombia.

But U.N. officials concede they have few if any historical reference points for this calamity – and they’re at a loss to label it. It’s not a refugee emergency driven by natural disaster or war, like Syria’s. Yet it’s far worse than mere economic migration.

“I prefer to call it a displacement crisis,” says Jozef Merkx, who heads Colombia operations for the U.N. Refugee Agency, or UNHCR.

But he adds: “We recognize there is a refugee dimension.”

The UNHCR has called on the international community to give almost $50 million to aid Venezuelan refugees. The U.S. has pitched in $2.5 million and may give up to $10 million more. But Merkx told WLRN in Bogotá only about a third of the goal has been reached so far.

“We need more resources, definitely,” he says – which is why his agency is widening its net and will soon launch an unusual online fundraising effort so private donors can help Venezuelans.

“It’s an opportunity,” says Merkx, “to contribute to a kind of safety net for the more vulnerable.”

MENACING SCISSORS

But expats in South Florida – home to the U.S.’s largest Venezuelan community – argue the U.N. could better leverage those funds if it did declare this a refugee crisis. Groups like the International Coalition for Venezuela are lobbying hard for it, says expat and Miami paralegal Rafael Moros.

“It’s a critical situation,” says Moros. “They are fighting to survive over there – doing anything. Girls, like 13, 14, 15, in prostitution, and that’s something terrible.”

Unfortunately, Moros is not exaggerating.

One of the first things Venezuelan women hear when they cross into Cúcuta is men shouting, “Compramos cabello!” meaning, “We’ll buy your hair.”

Here the wigmakers pay Venezuelan women a little more than $10 for their hair. That’s far less than the market rate in Colombia. But most women accept it because they need the cash.

The wigmakers know their operation is less than ethical. When I tried to film one Colombian woman cutting Venezuelans’ hair in the open border plaza, she summoned a couple of thugs and ordered me to stop.

She was holding scissors, so I complied. Still, Cúcuta is a small city whose own economy has been hurt by neighboring Venezuela’s collapse. There are not enough jobs to absorb the refugees – so once the hair cash is spent, many Venezuelan women start walking the streets.

That includes 19-year-old single mother Yureli Suárez. When Colombian police hauled Suárez and several other Venezuelan prostitutes back to the border this month, Suárez pledged to be back in Cúcuta soon.

“I worked in a bakery in Venezuela but there wasn’t enough money for food,” she said. “I’ll come back to Cúcuta because it’s the only way to fight to help my family now. If not they could die.”

But most Venezuelans in Cúcuta are on the pavement selling other things, from cigarettes to empanadas. That includes Junior Aranda and his family, despite their professional credentials.

“I’m an oil engineer, used to work at the gas plants for Petróleos de Venezuela,” Aranda says, unfolding the employment documents he usually carries with him.

Standing beside Aranda is his wife, Fátima, a veterinarian. Next to her is her mother, a computer engineer; her aunt, a child psychologist; and his sister, an architecture student. They decided to pool their inflation-ravaged savings and leave Venezuela this month after Aranda and Fátima’s twin babies caught German measles – because vaccines are virtually non-existent there today.

Later on they show me the small, dark, one-bedroom apartment in Cúcuta, furnished only with mattresses, where the entire family – 13 people in all – are living.

“It hurts a lot to lose a good career and be reduced to this,” says Aranda, adding that the family may try to employ their talents in Colombia or another country like Peru or the U.S. once they scrape together the money. “But I have faith in God and my wife that we’ll bounce back.”

A little later his wife whispers to me imploringly, “Please believe this is not how we usually live.”

Not surprisingly, none of them plan to be in Venezuela to vote in this Sunday’s presidential election, which most of the international community has dismissed as a farce rigged to favor the ruling socialists – and their disastrous rule.

And about the food stamps program families like even Aranda’s were counting on? The U.N. has had to suspend it. The crowds were simply too overwhelming.

 

 

Declaración colombo-venezolana en el Puente Internacional Simón Bolivar – 14 de Mayo 2018

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Declaración de los expresidentes Álvaro Uribe Vélez y Andrés Pastrana Arango, la Dra. Marta Lucía Ramírez, la Senadora Paola Holguín y demás congresistas colombianos, conjuntamente con la dirigente venezolana María Corina Machado

Reunidos en el Puente Internacional Simón Bolívar, hemos acordado:

1. Reafirmar los históricos nexos que unen las Repúblicas de Colombia y de Venezuela en los esfuerzos por instaurar y consolidar la vigencia del Régimen sociopolítico liberal democrático, resultante de las hazañas de La Independencia y de La Libertad, procuradas y logradas de manera mancomunada.

2. Reafirmar nuestro compromiso con los valores de la libertad y la democracia, condiciones esenciales para una sociedad capaz de promover el desarrollo económico, basado en la iniciativa individual, la solidaridad social, el respeto a la propiedad privada, y el ejercicio responsable de la política, como instrumento para promover el entendimiento entre los ciudadanos.

3. Promover que se combatan de manera concertada las actividades ilícitas y delictivas que afecten a Venezuela, a Colombia y a las relaciones entre ambas naciones. Especialmente, afirmamos que cuando retorne la libertad a Venezuela, promoveremos esfuerzos conjuntos para combatir el narcotráfico y los grupos criminales que subsistan.

4. En la hora dramática que vive Venezuela, acordamos respaldar todos los esfuerzos que se puedan realizar en Colombia y en América Latina en general, para atender a la gravísima crisis humanitaria que se vive en la frontera por efecto del flujo migratorio hacia Colombia de centenares de miles de venezolanos.

5. Auspiciar encuentros entre académicos, intelectuales y artistas para desarrollar de manera conjunta iniciativas que ayuden a la reconstrucción de Venezuela, así como la reparación de las relaciones en todos los aspectos entre ambas naciones, tanto entre los Estados como en lo que respecta a las sociedades.

A los 14 días del mes de mayo de 2018

En Villa del Rosario     En San Antonio del Táchira

Comunicado del Grupo de Lima de este #14May – La Patilla – 14 de Mayo 2018

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El Grupo de Lima se reunió este lunes en México con el fin de reiterar la condena al Gobierno de Nicolás Maduro y realizar un “último llamado” para que suspenda las elecciones de este domingo 20 de mayo.

Los miembros del Grupo intercambiaron información, analizaron los posibles escenarios e identificaron una serie de acciones que podrían tomar de manera colectiva o individual tras el 20 de mayo.

A continuación el comunicado completo:

COMUNICADO DEL GRUPO DE LIMA

En seguimiento a lo convenido en la Declaración de Mandatarios de Lima, del 14 de abril de 2018, los ministros y representantes de los Ministerios de Relaciones Exteriores y de Finanzas de Argentina, Brasil, Canadá, Chile, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, México, Panamá, Paraguay, Perú y Santa Lucía, con la participación de España y por videoconferencia el Secretario de Estado de los Estados Unidos y altos funcionarios del Departamento del Tesoro de ese país, se reunieron con objeto de abordar la situación en Venezuela y el agravamiento de la crisis política, económica, social y humanitaria en ese país.

Los países participantes reiteraron la condena al régimen autoritario que prevalece en Venezuela, el cual ha violentado la institucionalidad democrática, el estado de derecho y el respeto a los derechos humanos y ha convocado a un proceso electoral ilegitimo y carente de credibilidad.

Hacen un último llamado al Gobierno venezolano a suspender las elecciones generales previstas para el próximo 20 de mayo, ya que han sido convocadas por una autoridad ilegítima, sin la participación de todos los actores políticos venezolanos, sin observación internacional independiente y sin las garantías necesarias para un proceso libre, justo, transparente y democrático.

Como resultado de la reunión de trabajo los participantes intercambiaron información, analizaron los posibles escenarios e identificaron una serie de acciones que podrían tomar de manera colectiva o individual, después del 20 de mayo, en el ámbito diplomático, económico, financiero y humanitario.

Los países participantes reiteraron su compromiso de seguir analizando y tomando acciones e iniciativas dirigidas a contribuir a la restauración de la institucionalidad democrática, el respeto de los derechos humanos y la plena vigencia del estado de derecho en ese país hermano.

Ciudad de México, 14 de mayo de 2018

 

 

Hungry, sick and increasingly desperate, thousands of Venezuelans are pouring into Colombia by Chris Kraul – Los Angeles Times – 13 de Mayo 2018

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For evidence that the Venezuelan migrant crisis is overwhelming this Colombian border city, look no further than its largest hospital.

The emergency room designed to serve 75 patients is likely to be crammed with 125 or more. Typically, two-thirds are impoverished Venezuelans with broken bones, infections, trauma injuries — and no insurance and little cash.

“I’m here for medicine I take every three months or I die,” said Cesar Andrade, a 51-year-old retired army sergeant from Caracas. He had come to Cucuta’s Erasmo Meoz University Hospital for anti-malaria medication he can’t get in Venezuela. “I’m starting a new life in Colombia. The crisis back home has forced me to do it.”

The huge increase in Venezuelan migrants fleeing their country’s economic crisis, failing healthcare system and repressive government is affecting the Cucuta metropolitan area more than any other in Colombia. It’s where 80% of all exiting Venezuelans headed for Colombia enter as foreigners.

Despite turning away Venezuelans with cancer or chronic diseases, the hospital treated 1,200 migrant emergency patients last month, up from the handful of patients, mostly traffic collision victims, in March 2015, before the Venezuelan exodus started gathering steam. Leer más de esta entrada

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