As Venezuela’s economy plumbs the depths of collapse, a new cohort of refugees is trekking across parched landscapes to Colombia. It consists of the most vulnerable, including poor expectant mothers, unaccompanied children and the sick, people with no defence against the predations of armed bands.
Venezuelan President Maduro and Colombian President Santos agreed 22 Sept to “progressive” restoration of normality following Venezuela’s 19 Aug indefinite border closure; settlement involves seven commitments including investigating social problems at border, reinstating ambassadors. Venezuela implemented restrictive measures throughout month in some 28 municipalities in Táchira, Zulia, Apure and Amazonas states, placing entire corridor bordering Colombia under military control, with rights of freedom of movement and assembly suspended. Venezuela continued to deport Colombians; UN reported over 1,600 deported, 20,000 fled by late Sept.
Tensions are rising on the Colombia-Venezuela border after a new guerrilla faction opted out of Colombia’s 2016 peace deal. With diplomatic ties between the two countries severed, the risk of escalation is high. Bogotá and Caracas should open channels of communication to avoid inter-state clashes.
The borders [between Venezuela and Colombia] are unstable at the moment due to both the humanitarian situation and to the number of criminal and violent actors.
The frontier between Brazil and its crisis-ridden neighbour Venezuela has become a major migration route, a hotspot for crime and a flashpoint for violence.