Venezuela has some of world’s the largest oil reserves from which it derives more than 90 per cent of its income. Between 2014 and 2016, global oil prices collapsed dramatically. At the same time, Venezuela’s oil production hit 30-year lows because of corruption and underinvestment in infrastructure. These adverse factors, along with the effect of some American trade and financial sanctions, have plunged the country into an economic crisis.
Since 2013, rampant inflation has made the economic situation untenable. Millions of Venezuelans face acute food shortages and limited access to health care and sanitation. Child malnutrition is rising and the average Venezuelan has lost more than 11 kilograms of body weight over 2018.
At least 4 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015, with 2.7 million going to Latin American and Caribbean countries. In June 2019, the United Nations Refugee Agency and the International Organization for Migration reported that “Venezuelans are now one of the single largest population groups displaced from their country.”
Maria Teresa Jiménez, 85, raised nine children on her seamstress’ wages. Five of her children and nine of her grandchildren have left Venezuela following the crisis. “I’m happy that my children are in a place where they don’t face danger. I wish I were 20 years younger so I could go with them.”
In addition, the country is in political turmoil. Since January 23, 2019, Venezuela is living with two presidents: one elected in contested elections, Nicolás Maduro, and the other self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaidó. This unprecedented political crisis is dividing the country into two camps and worsening the economic and social situation in which millions of Venezuelans find themselves.
4 million people
about 12.5% of the population — have fled the country
has obliterated employment opportunities and people’s purchasing power
lost due to chronic hunger by each Venezuelan in the last year