When the teachers in Caracas asked the children to draw what they dreamed of, the results were surprising. ‘They would draw food, because they don’t have money for food,’ Ana* says as she recalls her experience of visiting Venezuela.
‘Even those who can still go to school can’t grasp what they’re learning, because of hunger.
‘I was crying a lot.’
Ana, who works for Tearfund in Latin America, has just returned from Venezuela to learn about the refugee crisis, and how Tearfund and our partners are helping those who’ve fled to neighbouring Colombia and Brazil.
The exodus is expected to increase with Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro being re-elected for another six-year term. The election (20 May) was marred by a boycott from the opposition and claims of vote-rigging.
According to Ana, ’There is no real democracy. There is a deep economic crisis. There is not enough food or medicines – the hospitals are lacking. There is food to buy, but people don’t have the money to buy it – if you earn $1 a month, how can you pay $5 for cooking oil?’
A rapidly changing crisis
Ongoing political and socio-economic developments have led to as many as 1.5 million Venezuelans fleeing the country in the past 18 months. This includes 35,000 people crossing the border into Colombia on a daily basis to stock up on food and other basics. Others have fled to Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Brazil.
Annual inflation could reach upwards of 300,000 per cent by the end of the year. The majority of the population do not have access to essential medicines and over 8 million Venezuelans don’t have enough food.