Venezuela's government accused the United Nations of exaggerating its migration crisis to justify "international intervention."
Vice-president Delcy Rodriguez said that the government has complained to UN General Secretary Antonio Guterres.
The Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is located in northwest South America. In 2017, the UN estimated that the country is home to over 31 million people. The country stretches across over 900,000 square kilometres. It is bordered by the Caribbean Sea in the north, and Columbia, Guyana, and Brazil in the west, east, and south respectively. Venezuela was colonised by Spain in 1522 and became the first Spanish territory to declare independence from the empire in 1811.
Despite having the world’s largest oil deposits, many Venezuelans live in abject poverty. The former President Hugo Chavez, was in office from 1999 to 2013, during which time billions of dollars were spent on generous social programs. However, since his successor Nicolas Maduro took office, there has been a rise in inflation and a shortage of basic goods. A drop-in oil price has added to the administration’s problems.
The UN says 1.6 million Venezuelans since 2015 have fled the economic meltdown in the country, which has been hit by shortages of basic necessities such as food and medicine.
Venezuela is in the fourth year of recession while the International Monetary Fund has predicted that inflation in the South American country will reach 1 million% this year. The flood of migrants abandoning their country to seek a better life elsewhere has left neighbouring countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador and Peru reeling under the strain.
Speaking at a press conference, Rodriguez said UN officials had been using data from "enemy countries" and presenting it "as if it was their own."
Thirteen Latin American countries began a two-day meeting in Quito on Monday to discuss the Venezuelan migration crisis, form a coordinated regional response and make an appeal for outside funding. "The worst humanitarian crisis the world is going through right now is that caused by NATO and European Union countries in Africa and the Middle East," added Rodriguez, who called on top EU diplomat Federica Mogherini to stamp out "fake news." She pointed to a new UN report that stated nearly 1,600 migrants had died or gone missing in 2018 on "the way to Europe."
Columbia, in particular, is aiming at making it harder for refugees to cross the border. The country saw an influx of over 500,000 people during the latter half of 2017. According to Mauricio Cardenas, Columbian Finance Minister, 2,000 Venezuelans now cross the border every day.
Columbian President Juan Manuel Santos has expressed his belief that President Maduro is to blame for the situation. “I want to repeat to President Maduro: this is the result of your policies. It is not the fault of Colombians and it’s the result of your refusal to receive humanitarian aid, which has been offered, not just from Colombia but from the international community.”
Our assessment is that Venezuela is close to becoming a failed state in Latin America. Millions of its populations are starving and millions more are struggling to access basic resources like medical supplies. It has resulted in an immigration crisis in the region which is affecting countries like Brazil and Colombia. Maduro has projected a defiant stance in the face of the crisis and has shown himself unwilling to cooperate with the international community. This will further damage the nation’s prospects in digging itself out of the current crisis.