By Wolfgang Fernandez.
It is not apparent in the news yet for the last few months I have continued to watch in horror and disbelief at the further deterioration of society in Venezuela.
It is estimated that more than 4 million Venezuelans have left the county in the last five years. First, were those with enough resources to buy plane tickets relocating to Europe, the United States, and beyond.
Now it is the turn of those taking buses and walking the rest of the way. The numbers crossing the bridge that links Venezuela and Colombia in the city of Cúcuta continues to overwhelm anyone’s imagination. It is estimated that over 100,000 Venezuelans are in Cúcuta alone at this moment with more coming every day.
The same is happening to the south in Brasil. The difference is that going to Brasil means going through the Amazon jungle. Boa Vista, a city of 250,000 is the first urban center. Having done their best to receive the newcomers, they are now desperately trying to figure out how to attend to them. The state’s governor has declared a state of emergency.
In this environment, all forms of human exploitation is thriving. Abuse is rampant and so is victimization of those who escape a desperate situation to another where their worth is treated with disdain.
In the other hand, being designated “ Refugees” can be problematic because such immigrants can’t return to Venezuela; President Nicolás Maduro has called them “traitors” of the state yet many say that as long as Mr. Maduro is in power they have no reason to return.
On top of all of these challenges, diseases like Malaria and Yellow Fever which were under control are now thriving. A recent report from the Venezuelan Health Department revealed 275,000 cases of Malaria. Our partners in LivFul have the product that can contain insect borne diseases but we need funding to get the product over there.
At the moment, together with Nexus, our partners in Venezuela, we are working on ways to support groups of churches that are stretching their resources to serve Venezuelans.
These Venezuelans continue to swell the 65 million around the world who wander, seeking a place to live in safety and decency.