The Venezuelan economy is in free fall, with soaring inflation and severe shortages of food, water, and medicine. Political opponents of the regime of Nicolas Maduro reportedly have been subjected to imprisonment and torture. Faced with such misery, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have fled their homeland.
On a recent visit to Brazil, Vice President Mike Pence noted that Venezuela, once one of the wealthiest countries in the region, is “now essentially a failed state.”
“Venezuela’s collapse is creating a humanitarian crisis, leading to widespread deprivations, the denial of basic services, and starvation. And it’s spurred the largest cross-border mass exodus in the history of our hemisphere,” Mr. Pence said.
To help meet this crisis, the Vice President announced nearly $10 million dollars in additional humanitarian U.S. assistance for Venezuelans who have fled their country. More than $1 million dollars will go directly to support relief operations in Brazil. Over 50,000 Venezuelans have arrived in northern Brazil since 2017.
The additional $10 million dollars bring the total U.S. humanitarian assistance to nearly $31 million since 2017. The newly announced funds include a contribution to the International Organization for Migration’s regional response to the Venezuela crisis; support for the UN World Food Program’s emergency response efforts for Venezuelans who have recently arrived in Ecuador; and other humanitarian aid to Venezuelans and host communities in Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, and Brazil.
“Complementing this assistance,” the U.S. State Department said in a written statement, “is $18.5 million dollars in bilateral funding to support displaced Venezuelans in Colombia who have fled the crisis."
The State Department praised the generosity of countries throughout the hemisphere who are hosting Venezuelans escaping the crisis at home, and urged additional contributions by all donors to meet their growing humanitarian needs. The State Department also urged countries to increase their support for the restoration of Venezuela’s democracy.
Vice President Pence noted that “as long as Maduro denies democracy and basic rights to his people, Venezuela will continue to crumble.
“The United States will not stand idly by as Venezuela crumbles,” he said. “Venezuela deserves better, and the Venezuelan people deserve to reclaim their birthright of liberdad [liberty].”