Venezuela’s Exodus Adds to the Perils Across Latin America

Venezuela’s Exodus Adds to the Perils Across Latin America
Venezuelans en route to Ecuador wait at a bus terminal in Bogota, Colombia, Aug. 24, 2017 (AP photo by Fernando Vergara).

After years of mostly steady economic growth and largely moderating politics in much of Latin America, the past year brought a spate of unexpected difficulties to the region, from severe political crises triggered by corruption scandals, to economic disruptions from the collapse of commodity prices. The troubles, as I’ve noted, will be key to the many pivotal elections this year. And now, there’s another major challenge for the governments and people of the region: a huge outflow of refugees and migrants from Venezuela.

Venezuela’s worsening political and economic crises have triggered a wave of mass migration that looks set to grow. The potential magnitude could easily rival what the Middle East has experienced from the conflict in Syria, a country that, on the eve of its civil war, had 10 million fewer people than Venezuela.

While Venezuelans do not face bombardment or full-blown war, living conditions are becoming increasingly untenable. Economic mismanagement has triggered abject poverty that now engulfs the overwhelming majority of the population, creating ever-deepening misery, with severe shortages of food, medicines and other staples. Political violence, meanwhile, is increasing, with street crime spiraling out of control.

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