Since 2015, Venezuela has been “functioning” on its last $30 billion (USD), and according to financial reports released by the country in 2017, the country now only has $10.5 billion (USD) in which $7.7 billion is invested in gold.
The crisis began over a year ago when the country began experiencing plenty of shortages in basic human necessities. The crisis in Venezuela has gotten so bad, that people have resorted to walking hundreds of miles to the Brazilian border in an effort to obtain a sustaining job. The government continues to waste money on unnecessary things like donating half a million dollars to Donald Trump’s Presidential Inauguration earlier this year.
A Human Rights Watch report conducted 60 interviews with Venezuelans who say that their main goal is to leave Venezuela because of the lack of means to buy food, water, and medicine.
Venezuelan Geraldine Dhil, 32, walked 125 miles to the Brazilian city of Boa Vista, hoping to find a job there so she can buy medicine for her 13-year-old daughter, who has cancer.
Barbara Rosales, 21, was six months pregnant when she went to a Venezuelan hospital in Santa Elena de Uairén.
The hospital didn’t have the medicine needed to treat her complications, so it had Rosales driven over the border with a nurse.
She gave birth in the Brazilian state of Roraima, where her baby, born weighing just 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds), had to spend a month in intensive care.
Venezuelans who are living in Boa Vista are living on the street or in government-sponsored shelters set up in abandoned warehouses.
At The Border
Venezuelans are trying to flee the country at the highest rate it’s ever been, Brazil’s immigration has been backed up with asylum seekers from Venezuela, which shot up from 54 requests in 2013 to 2,595 in the first 11 months of 2016.
The highest amount of applications for asylum in the United States is coming from Venezuela as well, with 18,155 applications.
In Roraima, 4,000 Venezuelans have been waiting months to officially apply for asylum, a step that would give them legal status to stay and work in Brazil while their cases are processed. The Federal Police have provided those on the waitlist with “appointment slips” for dates as far off as 2018, but Human Rights Watch says these documents don’t give asylum seekers permission to work, and it’s not clear if they protect them from deportation.
Even for those who’ve managed to officially file for asylum, rulings are slow. By the end of 2016, Brazil’s Ministry of Justice had decided just 89 of the 4,670 Venezuelan asylum applications it received since 2012. It granted asylum in 34.
Venezuelans can apply for two-year residency permits, which provide a more stable form of documentation than the Federal Police’s asylum appointment slips, but Muñoz says many are deterred by the R$500 (around US$160) cost of the application. In the US, Venezuela topped the list of countries for asylum requests in 2016, with 18,155 people seeking refuge, more than six times the number just two years before.