Speed Reads

refugee crisis

Food can't get into their country, so Venezuelans are getting out

In the two decades Venezuela has been ruled by Hugo Chavez and his successor, Nicolas Maduro, fully one in 10 Venezuelans — about 3 million people — have fled the country to escape chronic shortages of food and other necessities. Nearly half that number, 1.2 million, have left Venezuela in the past two years alone, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Many of those who leave simply cross the border into Colombia, which saw its Venezuelan population grow by 62 percent to 550,000 last year. In the first month and a half of 2018, another 50,000 have already taken refuge in the neighboring country. "By world standards Colombia is receiving migrants at a pace that now rivals what we saw in the Balkans, in Greece, in Italy in 2015, at the peak of [Europe's] migrant emergency," Joel Millman of the United Nations' International Organization for Migration told the Journal.

Venezuelans are eager to flee because food has become so expensive and scarce that children are dying of hunger. The Maduro regime has restricted food imports, trafficked limited supplies for personal profit, and arrested bakers for allegedly making the wrong bread. Runaway inflation is expected to reach 13,000 percent this year. Read The Week's breakdown of the crisis here.