Venezuela is starving. In a May 7 Wall Street Journal article, Juan Ferero describes this horror:
Hordes of people, many with children in tow, rummage through garbage, an uncommon sight a year ago. People in the countryside pick farms clean at night, stealing everything from fruits hanging on trees to pumpkins on the ground, adding to the misery of farmers hurt by shortages of seed and fertilizer. Looters target food stores. Families padlock their refrigerators.
Three in four Venezuelans said they had lost weight last year, an average of 19 pounds, according to the National Poll of Living Conditions, an annual study by social scientists. People here, in a mix of rage and humor, call it the Maduro diet after President Nicolás Maduro.
Venezuela is murdering its people. Over the last month, protests led by opposition to Maduro have become increasingly violent, leaving at least 35 dead, hundreds injured, and thousands in detention. Last week, President Maduro announced his intention to introduce a new constitution instead of honoring Venezuelans’ demand for elections. María Corina Machado, a leader of the Vente Venezuela party, said the people wouldn’t stop protesting what she called Maduro’s “mafioso dictatorship.” In a statement, she said, “We’re not going to change the constitution. We’re going to change you.”
Why is this happening? Venezuela was once the richest country in Latin America. Oil wealth should provide for a healthy, wealthy economy, but President Nicolas Maduro has repeated Hugo Chavez’ mistakes; mismanagement and misguided policies are responsible for the murder of many due to a lack of food, medicine and the freedom to protest.
A centralized government that has stolen enterprise from businesses with the experience and know-how to manage supply issues (among others), President Maduro’s reign has proved disastrous. To make matters worse, when people speak up for their families and friends who are suffering, asking the President to hear their cries, they are discredited, silenced, or even killed.
We must not let this horror continue. In the name of human rights, we must help the Venezuelan people.
Why has the U.N. stayed silent? Today, we call on the U.N. and all the powerful international organizations and people who have the power to change reality for the suffering Venezuelans.
Venezuelans are leaving Venezuela because they are being murdered, directly and indirectly through starvation and retaliatory methods like denial of basic medical assistance.
According to the US government’s Citizenship and Immigration Services, in 2016, Venezuelans became the top US asylum-seekers; Venezuelan asylum claims increased by 150 percent from 2015 to 2016. More and more Venezuelans are choosing to leave as an economic crisis marked by triple-digit inflation crushes salaries and widespread food and medicine shortages make life unbearable.
Those that need to leave because they fear political persecution or death must be offered legal status in the US. That is why we support the bipartisan Congressional bill sponsored by Curbelo, Ros-Lehtinen, Wasserman, and Sototo introduced last week which will let Venezuelans either fleeing their country’s violence and poverty or who are already here to gain legal permanent residency status.
In 2015, we held a press conference with Congressman Marc Veasey during which we called for US protection of Venezuelans in need of asylum. Today, we amplify that call, asking all supporters to join us in speaking out on behalf of those who need the power of our voices. Please contact your Congressional representatives and ask your family and friends to do the same.
A Venezuelan immigrant, our founder, Margaret A. Donnelly is here to help her countrymen. Please contact our office today if you are a Venezuelan and have questions about asylum or if you have other questions to ask a qualified immigration attorney.