Friday, August 16, 2019
David Smolansky, chair of the Organization of American States’ working group on the Venezuelan migration and refugee crisis, joins Altamar to discuss the Venezuelan humanitarian crisis. Smolansky, a journalist, political scientist, and student organizer, is also the co-founder of Voluntad Popular, one of Venezuela’s main opposition parties.
The dimensions of Venezuela’s refugee crisis are staggering: “As we speak, there are 4.2 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees. This is the largest migration or refugee crisis in the history of Latin America and the second largest in the world, only behind Syria,” says Smolansky. Nevertheless, only a fraction of the aid dedicated to other crises has been devoted to Venezuelan refugees.
International assistance to Syrian refugees amounts to about $3000 per person, while Venezuelan counterparts have received about $100-200.
If the crisis is this large and severe, why has the plight of these refugees failed to garner international attention? “Some see the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis as a regional problem, or even worse, as a sub-regional problem,” explains Smolansky. “The key to have more help is to have a global interpretation of this crisis.” If left unchecked, Smolansky worries things will only get worse. “If the humanitarian crisis continues in Venezuela… we could see more than 5 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees by the end of this year. What’s worse, we could see more than 6 million migrants and refugees by 2020.” At this rate, Venezuela’s refugee crisis will surpass Syria’s within 18 months.