Much has been made of the number of people “fleeing” Venezuela.

By   /   February 5, 2019  /   23 Comments

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It probably doesn’t matter what type of government existed in Venezuela but a price decline of that magnitude in a country that gets 90% of its foreign exchange from oil would have been a disaster.

“According to the UNHCR, 2.6 million Venezuelans are now living abroad.” Around half of these have left in the last three years following the major economic decline that hit the country following the collapse of oil prices in 2014. Around one million of those now live in neighbouring Colombia.
It probably doesn’t matter what type of government existed in Venezuela but a price decline of that magnitude in a country that gets 90% of its foreign exchange from oil would have been a disaster.
Venezuela has a population of 32 million. 2.6m living abroad is one of the lowest percentages for any county in Latin America.
5.6 million Colombians live inside Venezuela having fled that country over the last few decades. That country has been run by a coalition of ultra-right political parties, brutal US-armed military, death squads, and drug cartels. Over 200,000 people have been slaughtered establishing a US-approved “order”.
The government of Venezuela under former President Hugo Chavez regularised their status by giving them residency rights, access to welfare support and the right to vote.
Do you know how many Kiwis live abroad – 1 million – almost one-quarter of the population have “fled” the country because of the awful economic situation here.
Maybe we should ask Trump to save us. Maybe he could pick someone to be the Prime Minister and tweet their accession to power so we don’t have to bother with an election.
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About the author

Mike Treen

National Director of Unite Union

23 Comments

  1. Marc says:

    “5.6 million Colombians live inside Venezuela having fled that country over the last few decades. That country has been run by a coalition of ultra-right political parties, brutal US-armed military, death squads, and drug cartels. Over 200,000 people have been slaughtered establishing a US-approved “order”.”

    By now Colombia is a somewhat functioning democracy, certainly not perfect, and prone to suffer US influence, of course.

    Venezuela is a disaster now, you can continue blaming the US for everything, but there is a bit more to the story.

    Chavez did some good things, some not so smart, but he at least held the people together to a degree. He died of cancer, had to hand over leadership to a successor, even then, many thought, Maduro is not going to be a good replacement. Sadly there were few alternatives.

    By the way, I met a Colombian a few years back, who had ‘fled’ Bogota many years ago, to live in Caracas, Venezuela, but seeing the writing on the wall there, she came to New Zealand in the end, never really regretting having left, except for some family still being there, who she misses.

    Defending the indefensible makes you look a bit foolish, Mike.

    Venezuelans traditionally stayed loyal to their country, now millions do no longer. That is the concern.

    • Brigid says:

      Surely you accept the the sanctions imposed by the US, and the collapse of oil prices in 2014 facilitated by the Saudi regime, would have had a disastrous effect on any country.

      Has Maduro really made such a hash of running the country that could compare with May’s or Trump’s woeful administrations?

      • francesca says:

        I’ve posted this before , but here we go
        In 2017 the UN Human development program placed Venezuela highly on the human development index
        Topping all Latin American countries
        http://hdr.undp.org/sites/all/themes/hdr_theme/country-notes/VEN.pdf
        This means an increase in life expectancy, education, and a number of other factors.
        Maduro must have been doing something right, despite all the hurdles put his way by Venezuela’s US leaning elites and the US itself

        • Marc says:

          Extract from that UN report:
          “The 2018 Statistical Update presents the 2017 HDI (values and ranks) for 189 countries and UN-recognized territories, along with the IHDI for 151 countries, the GDI for 164 countries, and the GII for 160 countries. It is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because of revisions and updates of the underlying data and adjustments to goalposts.”

          “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s HDI value for 2017 is 0.761— which put the country in the high human development category—positioning it at 78 out of 189 countries and territories. Between 1990 and 2017, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s HDI value increased from 0.634 to 0.761, an increase of 20.0 percent.”

          Well, so number 78 out of 189 nations, many of whom are very poor nations, that is not as great a rating for an oil rich country, as you may think.

          Also the figures go up to 2017, one wonders what reliability was there in figures provide by the government to the UN, as the UN relies on reports handed in to them. Also, things have deteriorated a lot since 2016/2017, which is not shown in that report.

          Venezuela is hardly a ‘shining beacon’ of progress and achievements, I would say, it is a screwed up country now, of course the US contributed to this, but that alone cannot be to be blamed.

        • Marc says:

          Extract from that UN report:
          “The 2018 Statistical Update presents the 2017 HDI (values and ranks) for 189 countries and UN-recognized territories, along with the IHDI for 151 countries, the GDI for 164 countries, and the GII for 160 countries. It is misleading to compare values and rankings with those of previously published reports, because of revisions and updates of the underlying data and adjustments to goalposts.”

          “Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s HDI value for 2017 is 0.761— which put the country in the high human development category—positioning it at 78 out of 189 countries and territories. Between 1990 and 2017, Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela’s HDI value increased from 0.634 to 0.761, an increase of 20.0 percent.”

          Well, so number 78 out of 189 nations, many of whom are very poor nations, that is not as great a rating for an oil rich country, as you may think.

          Also the figures go up to 2017, one wonders what reliability was there in figures provide by the government to the UN, as the UN relies on reports handed in to them. Also, things have deteriorated a lot since 2016/2017, which is not shown in that report.

          Venezuela is hardly a ‘shining beacon’ of progress and achievements, I would say, it is a screwed up country now, of course the US contributed to this, but that alone cannot be to be blamed.

          • francesca says:

            Comparing it to the other Latin American countries, its done rather well

            • francesca says:

              The effects of the 2017 sanctions have been under reported
              Marc, most of us here are reliant on what we read , how widely we read , and an historical sense developed over time , so here’s one piece of my reading list
              Mark Weisbrot on Venezuela’s economic collapse
              https://www.thenation.com/article/trumps-sanctions-make-economic-recovery-in-venezuela-nearly-impossible/

              • Marc says:

                “Of course, the collapse of oil prices made everything much more difficult for Venezuela, since oil accounted for 95 percent of its exports and the majority of government revenue. Yet Venezuela went into recession in 2014, when oil was still more than $100 a barrel. Policy failures, not an oil shock, precipitated the country’s financial decline. But the response to the oil-price collapse, especially maintaining the economically deadly exchange-rate system, ensured prolonged catastrophe.

                The only way out of this mess is to let the currency float and allow it to reach an equilibrium. When it has hit bottom, we would expect that much of the savings that Venezuelans have in dollars, mostly abroad, would come back, because everything is cheap in dollar terms and they would know that the exchange rate has stabilized. This is what happened in Argentina after it floated its currency, resulting in a large devaluation, at the beginning of 2002.”

                Do you actually read and understand what you linked to?

            • John W says:

              Dictators and Tyrants, and irresponsible spending.

              Chavez and Maduro both have used income to improve lives, raise literacy rates, improve health and life expectancy, establish better land tenure for the dispossessed common indigenous majority and raised hope for many millions of Venezuelans young and old.

              After many decades of colonial imposition of foreign stake holders and wealthy tyrants robbing indigenous land and looting resources, the turn around in not accepted by a wealthy section of society.

              Beware the parrots who continue to spread accusations of dictatorship and irresponsible management by elected Chavez or elected indigenous Maduro. with elections scrutinised by international panel of experts ranking the Venezuelan election system and management of it as being one of the best in the world.

              But Maduro cannot be expected to manage the CIA expenditure towards destabilising Venezuela.

    • mikesh says:

      It is hypocritical of Pompeo to lambast Maduro for blocking Columbian charitable aid when the US has itself frozen Venizuala’s export receipts, which could have been used to alleviate the sufferings of the starving poor. What must happen is that the US must release those funds immediately. The US says that they will do so as soon as Guaido is legally installed as president, but this would be a valid response only if is assumed that they, the US, has the right to determine the Venezualan presidency. However, Venezuala being a sovereign state, the US has no such right.

      Even if the recent election was “rigged”, as many of the countries opposed to the Maduro regime have claimed (though I very much doubt that it was actually “rigged”) it would still not give the US, or any other country to interfere. Only the Venizualans themselves have right to sort out their electoral problems if there are any.

      • Marc says:

        It is clear now, the White House and Pentagon want a regime change in Venezuela, no doubt about that, hence the hardening of sanctions.

        At the same time the US and its willing ‘opposition’ helpers stage this show of supposed ‘support’ with ‘aid’ being transported to the border between Colombia and Venezuela.

        In political and strategic terms it is a master stroke by the right wing in charge in the US, especially since most media do not have the resources to analyse what goes on, and simply report the symptoms, not the condition and the cause of the malaise.

        Nevertheless, Maduro and his government stuffed up big, with the stupid measures they have so far taken. This will be the end of the Bolivarian Revolution, unless China and Russia step in with massive aid – also financial, to save the regime in Caracas.

    • historian pete says:

      You know nothing about Venezuela Marc , and even less about Columbia, which is owned holus bolus by the U.S Empire, even to the point of it being seriously suggested to become part of NATO.

      • Marc says:

        Hahaha, Pete, go back and re-study history.

        • historian pete says:

          You come over superficially Marc as a progressive. But there is an underlying support for the idea of the primacy of Western civilization over the third world countries. You ignore the effect that economic sanctions can have on a country like Venezuela that have been likened to the surrounding of a city in Medieval times to strangle it economically to death. The U.S. Empire uses, indeed controls the World Bank, the United Nations, the E.U., Nato,the vassal states [which includes NZ]. The U.S uses its military, 850 foreign military bases, its worldwide surveillance system including the 5 Eyes, to bully and economically threaten anyone who tries to do business with Venezuela [ and Iran, Cuba, Syria]. It has now started on China and Russia.All countries that dont bend the knee to the U.S. Empire.You supported the U.S. Empire efforts to regime change Syria. You supported the White helmets.You really have only a very superficial knowledge of the world and really don’t get it!!!

          • Marc says:

            Yeah, Pete, friend of Putin’s Russia, America is the enemy of the world, it is all to be blamed on the mighty USA, right, that goes wrong?

            The string pullers are all sitting in the Pentagon and in Washington and have signed up full servitude to the great Wall Street banks, all else in the world is innocent and pure, I suppose???

            It seems you do not get it, the world is much more complex than what you describe it as.

            China and Russia and other powers play their own games. I am under no illusion about the USA, and its powers, but at times you come across as if it is all a huge conspiracy, and all traces lead back to the US.

            The regime led by Maduro stuffed up with silly currency ‘reforms’, with even so often lifting the minimum wage, with nationalising institutions, organisations and businesses, without much thought how to ensure things continue operating well enough.

            Maduro had time to do more than desperate patch up jobs, than cosmectic actions and much rarara speeches.

            The Bolivarian Revolution should have led to more profound changes, and decisive actions to diversify economic activity within Venezuela, they should have done all to reduce dependency on petroleum exports, they screwed up and never learned political and economic 101.

            As for Syria, yes, I consider the Assad regime a regime of terror and murder and torture, and do not fall for the propaganda that his servants serve us. And the White Helmets is another story, so ‘support’ or not, I was rather neutral about their activities and where they got some funding from, there were certainly many online appeals they ran.

            Instead of the US marching into Syria (they sent some troops, yes), the Russians stepped up when Obama hesitated, and once Trump was in charge, they took the opportunity to simply establish facts. They already had a base in Latakia, and close ties with Assad, so they simply bombed the rebels there were to bits, whether civilian casualties or not, media was not much able to report on the bombings, but the end result, and so we will never know much about the atrocities committed by the Russians, while we do at least at times learn about the ‘collateral damage’ caused by drone strikes by the US.

            You are blind on one eye, dear Pete, that is your problem.

  2. Matthew says:

    Can we please stop defending Maduro? He is nothing more than a petty dictator, he has no right to call himself a socialist, and regardless if you think 3 million is not many people (it is actually alot for a short period), the conditions in Venezuela are horrific. That only 10% have fled is due to Venezuelan patriotism, stubbornness, hope and hopelessness. One hopes that the US will not intervene, that the opposition, lead by a member of Socialist International, can achieve a peaceful transition and proper elections in a short time. Maduro has never been fairly elected, and he now sends his secret police into poorer, Chavista neighbourhoods, just like the fascist politicians in Brasil do, so stop with this left versus right, this is a humanitarian disaster versus rebuilding a nation, internally, without the meddling of the US, or mislead NZ socialists. Venezuela was always a copycat movement of Cuba, but in a different time, and Maduro has never been interested in anything other than conservation of power. Bolsanaro, Macri, Renzi, May, Trump, Pinera, Duque are all terrible people, and although politically right, they are actually less bad than Maduro. Out Maduro, long live socialism!

    • Spikeyboy says:

      Can we please stop defending the orange orangutan. To continue to blame Maduro for the economic collapse of his country is willful blindness and support of the most overtly rascist and bigoted Trump tweets. Even the WSJ now recognises the effect of sanctions on ordinary Venezuealans. You have to be completely thick to think that cutting off the legitamate government froom 11 Billion of foreign assets and to make it impossible to sell their major export would not trash the economy. Just think what would happen to NZ at the merest hint of the stopping of our trade in dairy. And thats without even considering any severe limiting of our imports. But I guess density is the hallmark of right wingers.

      http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/51051.htm

      • Matthew says:

        It is not only me that blames Maduro and his cadre, but the majority of Venezuelans. This is an an excellent article by a Chavista based in the US, regarding what socialism means in the Venezuelan context.
        https://www.jacobinmag.com/2019/02/venezuela-noninterventionism-self-determination-solidarity Read it and we can once again agree to fight the forces of neo liberalism together, and plot the downfall of this “orange orangutan”, which is insulting to both orangutans and oranges. Twitter is for twits I was once told. And yes Venezuelan oil is like Aotearoan dairy, both economies relying on a single earner, and neither for the future with climate change to end it all very soon. Long live the Cuban Revolution in its full splendour, and that all other socialist revolutions can be so marvelous!

        • mikesh says:

          Whilst I agree with most of the linked article, I would have to take issue with the notion that a president cannot ban a political party or candidate. A president is elected to act in the best interests of the people as a whole, and if he does not ban parties clearly inimical to the interests of the state, he is simply not doing his job. I don’t know anything about the parties or candidates banned in Venezuala, but it’s easy to see how such parties or candidates could exist in that country.

  3. Mjolnir says:

    Its risable that at a time when the Yanks are jumping up and down about so-called Russian manipulation of their 2016 elections, those same people welcome US intervention in Venezuela. The stench of hypocrisy wafts through the halls of power in Washington DC

  4. saveNZ says:

    A fantastic article…

    Trump’s Brilliant Strategy to Dismember U.S. Dollar Hegemony

    https://michael-hudson.com/2019/02/trumps-brilliant-strategy-to-dismember-u-s-dollar-hegemony/


 
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