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U.S. Assistance to Vulnerable Venezuelans

Venezuelan citizens hold up their identification cards for inspection by the Colombian immigration police, in Cucuta, Colombia. (File)

Today, Venezuela is in an economic and political crisis steadily spiraling downward.

Not long ago, Venezuela, with its enormous oil reserves, was South America’s most affluent nation.

Today, Venezuela is in an economic and political crisis steadily spiraling downward.

Political repression, economic overdependence on a single commodity, mismanagement of the economy, currency exchanges, and the decline of the all-important oil sector, as well as rampant corruption, all contributed to runaway inflation and a collapsing economy.

Shortages are everywhere from basic foodstuffs to medicines. The International Monetary Fund says Venezuela’s inflation will rise to 13,000 percent this year, even as the economy will likely shrink by 15 percent.

Venezuelans are fleeing their homeland by the hundreds of thousands and crossing into neighboring countries, including Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, and Panama. More than 1.7 million Venezuelans will flee their country this year says the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

This will pose major challenges for the entire hemisphere, including health risks, famine, human smuggling, and other predatory activities on vulnerable populations. The United States believes the hemisphere has to address the crisis together and support the Venezuelan people. That is why the United States is already providing millions of dollars for emergency food and medical assistance to Venezuelans who have fled to Colombia and the communities who are hosting them, said Mark Green, Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID.

The United States calls for the Venezuelan government to permit the entry of food, medicine, and humanitarian assistance.

“The influx of hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans has strained the medical and social services of Colombian border communities and others throughout the Western Hemisphere,” said Administrator Green. “Regrettably, this crisis in Venezuela, which is now spilling into the broader region, is man-made - the result of continued political mismanagement and corruption by the Maduro regime.

“Unfortunately, even as people are suffering every day from hunger, lack of basic necessities, and preventable diseases, the Maduro regime continues to deny the people of Venezuela fundamental freedoms and access to basic humanitarian needs,” he said.

Administrator Green concluded by emphasizing, “the United States will continue to support the Venezuelan people.