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March 21, 2018   |   Ithaca, NY

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Refugee crisis in Latin America is getting worse

With whatever little attention is given to the migration crisis in Europe and the Middle East, there is no room to worry about the ever-growing migration crisis happening in Latin America.

Brazil has officially declared a state of emergency over the Venezuelan migrant influx. In the past two weeks, there has been an even more severe rise in Venezuelans leaving their country to escape the heightening economic crisis and a highly unqualified, power-hungry president.

After the closing of the Venezuelan-Colombian border this past DecemberColombia was already trying to instate former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia members into society; it could not handle another influx of people. Also, President of Venezuela Nicolas Maduro continues to blame the economic crisis on black market contraband for basic goods sold at the borderVenezuela has turned to its next viable option: Brazil.

There has already been a flow of migrants into the region due to the economic turmoil of the country — an estimated 30,000 in the past two years — but in the past few weeks, Boa Vista, a Brazilian city on the border of Venezuela, has seen about a thousand people cross the border in one week alone. Boa Vista is slowly becoming a tent city of refugees that has little to no means to sustain itself, thanks to the economic crisis back home. The city has made makeshift shelters in gyms, but the conditions are still prisonlike and unsafe for Venezuelans who are seeking work and shelter.

We all know how this is going to go. A country with its own economic and political turmoil will try to accommodate the influx of migrants. In February, a budget by local forces was set aside for humanitarian needs — along with putting armed troops on the border. Locals will get apprehensive — there have already been attacks on improvised refugee homes —  language will become a barrier; jobs will become a competition. Eventually, Brazil will begin to increase restrictions on Venezuelans ability to cross the border. Gaining residency will become harder and finding a welcoming country, even more so.  

Latin America’s response — turning a blind eye —  is further empowering Maduro’s regime. Not realizing that in doing so, Latin America is also throwing the people of Venezuela into a deeper crisis, and in turn, creating a worse and worse migration crisis. Many government officials around the region fear a situation like the Syrian refugee crisis, but they also do nothing to help prepare for the fact that Maduro will not let up his regime and will sink Venezuela into the ground with his corrupted pride.

Isabella Grullón Paz can be reached at or via Twitter: @isagp23