Venezuelan Snapshots

A brief overview of events impacting Venezuela in the past two weeks

  • Maduro blamed the US for a second massive blackoutthis year that began at rush hour July 22 and left millions without electricity, running water, and other basic services.
  • A survey of Venezuelans who have fled their country found that half of the families interviewed had faced or continued to face risksduring their journey related to their age, gender or health status. Many had resorted to drastic survival strategies, including begging, sending their children to work or even resorting to survival sex. 
  • The 1.4 million Venezuelans immigrants now living in Colombia have overwhelmed a nationwhich five years ago contained only 140,000 registered foreigners.   
  • In the Catatumbo region near Colombia’s border with Venezuela, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and other armed groups are now in open warfarewith each other. An increased military presence has reportedly exacerbated the violence. Civilians are caught in the middle 
  • The Catatumbo region’s proximity to Venezuela and ideal conditions for cultivating coca have made it a strategic corridor for rebels and drug traffickers. In recent weeks 830 peoplefrom six villages in the region have been displaced by clashes between armed groups.  
  • InColombia’s northern Guajira regionbordering Venezuela, eighteen community kitchenswith funding through the UN World Food Program fed nearly 100,000 Venezuelan refugees and migrants in June. A funding shortfall is threatening the future of aid programs like these, which many Venezuelan families depend on for their survival.
  • Despite a landmark 2016 peace deal between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), people in Colombia’s rural areas are continuing to flee violence from other armed groups. Some 40,000 people were newly displacedin the first quarter of 2019 alone.
  • The WFP has only received just over halfof the US$76 million it needs to respond to the needs of Venezuelans in Colombiain 2019. Colombian Foreign Minister has promised to keep his country’s doors open but has asked for more international help to deal with the influx.
  • Colombia’s national registry estimates that 23,000 children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parentsare waiting to be granted Colombian nationality.
  • Last week the US imposed Venezuela-related sanctionsagainst ten individuals and thirteen groups, including Maduro relatives, in a food subsidy scam that lined Maduro’s and his family’s pockets while Venezuelans starved to death.  
  • Spanish oil and gas firm Repsolreceived 45% of the amount owed by Venezuela in the first half of 2019, an improvement over last year.   
  • The opposition-controlled National Assembly approved a law that would allow Venezuela to return to the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR).  Opposition hardliners had been pressuring Interim President Guaidó to join the TIAR as a precursor to requesting a foreign military interventionto remove Maduro.  
  • The Lima Grouphas urged the international community to make a “huge effort to re-establish” democracy in the South American country.
  • In recent years 43,000 Venezuelan health professionals have emigrated, the majority between 2017 and 2018. In 2017 alone, three thousand nurses abandoned their positions due to the terrible public health system. 
  • At the midpoint of 2019, only 22,500 health providers remainacross Venezuela.  Increased emigration amongst them is expected. The areas most affected are pediatrics, general practice, and surgery. 
  • The US military accused a Venezuelan fighter aircraft of “aggressively” shadowinga US Navy EP-3 Aries II plane over international airspace on July 21, in yet another sign of the increasing hostility between the two nations. 
  • After years of an artificially strong official currency rate, Maduro’s regime has overseen a dramatic devaluationin the past few years which essentially priced the bolivar in line with the black market. 
  • Recently the difference between the black market price to buy dollars and the official rate is blowing out after months of relative stability. The bolivar has depreciated 18%against the dollar in one week, now costing 12,400 bolivars compared with 7,336 bolivars at the official rate.
  • According to data collected by foundations in Venezuela, in the growing trauma of fractured families in Venezuela, more than 800,000 Venezuelan childrenhave in recent years lost one or both parents to emigration, as they are left behindwith other relatives. 
  • The Wayuuindigenous people survived the Conquest, colonization, wars for independence, artificially imposed national borders that separated families, and other social upheavals but are now succumbing to the implosion of Venezuela. As the Wayuu desert Venezuela for neighboring tribal lands in Colombia, their arrival has created upheaval amongst their chronically poor Colombian counterparts and brought about conflict over limited resources. 
  • Venezuelan refugeeAlexander Bejawas “discovered”this month by Mexican pop group Camila, who heard him singing En Venezuelaon the streets of Bogotá, Colombia.  The group invited Alexander to do a recording in Mexico, while Migra Colombia graciously helped legitimize his documents.
  • In other good news, Venezuelan immigrantsaround the world continue to take first place in major prizesin areas of the arts, science, sports, and others.  
  • The IMF projects an ongoing deepening of the Venezuelan humanitarian crisisthroughout the remainder of 2019, with continued hyperinflation and a predicted total of over 5 million Venezuelan immigrants by year’s end which in turn will impact significantly neighboring countries.
  • La Casa Misionera, a 15-minute walk from the international bridge at Cucuta, has been ministering to over a 100 Venezuelan immigrants per day.  Venezuelans Baptists are doing most of the work there.  This month the Venezuelan National Baptist Convention sent two volunteer teams to serve the needs of the immigrants.  Yesterday’s report:  98 had showers, 66 washed clothes, 22 received medical attention, all received spiritual attention and love.