Colombia, which is still emerging from a half-century conflict, says it has absorbed almost 1 million Venezuelan residents, and Duque’s cabinet has increasingly said it needs international aid to handle the inflow.
Once one of South America’s most prosperous nations, Venezuela has been in an economic free fall for years, amid collapsing oil output, draconian price and currency controls and widespread corruption. Now the nation of 32 million has the world’s highest inflation, chronic food and medicine shortages, and is suffering power and water outages.
Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who was re-elected in May in a controversial snap election that could keep him in power through 2025, claims that the migratory crisis is being exaggerated as part of ongoing operations to topple his government. In recent weeks, the administration has been offering Venezuelans in Chile, Peru, Ecuador, Argentina and elsewhere free flights home, suggesting that the migrants are trapped abroad in “slave-like” conditions.
Almagro said the Venezuelan airlift was just another “immoral” propaganda ploy to obscure the brutal truth in Venezuela. But the reality of hundreds of thousands fleeing – the largest migratory event in South America’s recent history – is a truth that “has completely escaped [the government’s] control,” he said.
This is the “clearest rejection of the dictatorship in Venezuela,” he said.
Maduro has long accused the OAS of being a pawn of the United States, and the South American nation has initiated the process of withdrawing from the body, which includes every country in the Americas except Cuba.