Ecuador is facing a serious problem this month and for once it has nothing to do with Julian Assange. The nation has declared a state of emergency because of a flood of refugees who are overwhelming their border control facilities and straining available resources to the limits. And where are all of these desperate souls coming from? Venezuela, of course. As the collapse of the socialist nation under the grip of Nicolas Maduro continues to spiral out of control, starving people have been fleeing in large numbers and Ecuador needs additional security and medical assistance to deal with the flood of humanity escaping oppression. (Reuters)
Ecuador on Wednesday declared a state of emergency in three provinces due to an unusually high volume of Venezuelan migrants crossing over the northern border with Colombia after fleeing the OPEC nation’s economic crisis.
Venezuela’s hyperinflation and chronic product shortages have fueled an exodus of citizens who typically travel by land via Colombia, often continuing south toward Andean nations including Ecuador, Peru and Chile.
“The government of Ecuador has declared a state of emergency related to human migration in the provinces of Carchi, Pichincha and El Oro to provide urgent attention to the Venezuelan migrants on the northern border,” the foreign ministry said in a statement.
Ecuadorian officials are reporting an average of more than 4,200 Venezuelan refugees per day. That may not sound like much compared to the border issues faced by the United States, but Ecuador is a tiny country. Half the size of Texas with a population of less than 17 million, they simply don’t have the manpower or supplies to deal with this sort of volume.
At first glance, it may seem curious that so many refugees are showing up in Ecuador since they don’t even share a border with Venezuela, but the Venezuelan migrants don’t have that many options for flight. They have to go through Colombia to get to Ecuador, but they’re not particularly welcome there since Columbia is currently in something of a prolonged diplomatic spat with the leadership in Caracas. Fleeing to the south or southeast, into the northern reaches of Brazil or Guyana puts them in largely uninhabited and dangerous jungles. For refugees fleeing on foot, traveling south along the Pacific coast is almost the only viable option.
Ecuador is getting some help with medical staff and resources from the United Nations Refugee Agency which should provide them with some short-term relief. Also, Ecuador’s president, Lenín Moreno, has been trying to warm up relations with the United States so we may see some of our own relief agencies lending a hand. But either way, the socialist plague of Venezuela’s collapse is no longer confined to their own nation. It’s spreading like a disease and starting to seriously impact its neighbors. Where does this story end? Perhaps with the overthrow of Maduro if his people become desperate enough, but I wouldn’t expect to see that any time soon.