The economic meltdown plus anticipatory concern about the new Venezuelan inflation control measures have caused a spike in the number of daily border crossers into Brazil and Colombia. Inflation in Venezuela passed 82,000%. Brazilian authorities expect up to 1,000 migrants a day this week.
It’s all completely predictable. Venezuela used to be a wealthy country. It floats on an ocean of oil. It used to be a happy country with abundant food because the growing season lasts through 12 months of the year. There are verdant mountains, fresh flowing streams of clear, clean water. Everyone had enough, and some did very well. Then envy set in, the people embraced socialism to distribute the wealth (social justice) that some people had accumulated by stealing from the rich. Is it fair that some should have more than others? Capital fled. Business owners were looted and businesses closed. The government said that they’d run those businesses. (Much like the promise of Obamacare was to make all US healthcare as good as the VA)
In May, the Red Cross reported that more than a million Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia in the past year. A recent UN report said that 2.3 million Venezuelans from a population of 31.3 million have fled to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Brazil. Ecuador and Peru will soon begin refusing to accept anyone without a visa.
Brazilian President Michel Temer is sending more troops and more police to the border after locals in the town of Pacaraima, Roraima State, clashed with Venezuelan migrants. The mission of the troops is to protect the migrants. Three Brazilians were injured in the clashes.
In Pacaraima on the 18th, several migrant encampments were attacked by angry residents following reports that a local restaurant owner had been badly beaten by Venezuelans. The tents and belongings of the migrants were torched by the locals.
The Brazilian government will not close the border, according to the Institutional Security Minister. However, the government of Roraima State want the Brazilian Supreme Court to order the border closed to migrants. The number of troops is expected to rise to 150.
The great Venezuelan exodus is one of the largest population movements in South American history.
Large population movements are inherently destabilizing because they impose extra burdens on local resources. They cause resentment and tension because they often result in the failure of the government to satisfy the needs and wants of the residents. Those conditions create stress, and stress is the gateway to violent internal instability. The weekend violence in Pacaraima was a textbook manifestation of stress.
Increased regional tension also is one of the ripple effects of the Maduro government’s mismanagement of the Venezuelan economy. Mass movements are one source of conflict between countries.