Saturday, February 23, 2019
Venezuela has been in the news. The Department of State has advised "do not travel" there given rampant crime, violence, and political instability. In the news for weeks, borders have been closed, humanitarian aid has been blocked, and the current government is on the brink. Tens of thousands of migrants are fleeing the violence.
Annette Idler for The Conversation analyzes the current situation in Venezuela. As the crisis in Venezuela continues, aid trucks are being blocked at the border with Colombia. Two men claim to be the country’s rightful president.
The Colombia-Venezuela border is home to some of the worst violence and organized crime in the region. Aid blockages can be seen as yet another manifestation of these problems, with armed groups playing power games at the expense of vulnerable local people.
Concerns that Venezuela’s instability could extend beyond its borders have already materialized – 3 million citizens have left the country. Most of them are “absorbed” by borderland communities, pressurizing already strained governance systems.
Research shows that pressure on basic services in these communities that have been deficient anyway – health, access to food and jobs – fuels crime, prostitution, and begging, and deepens social tensions. Together with the xenophobic discourse of right-wing politicians, this becomes an explosive mix.
Venezuela’s crisis is also fueling the expansion of criminal networks that have ruled the region for decades, as they take advantage of the economic crisis along the border.