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The exodus of millions of desperate impoverished Venezuelans to surrounding countries has been called "a risk for the entire region".[4] Millions of Venezuelan people have voluntarily emigrated from Venezuela during the Chávez and Maduro presidencies.[220][221] The crisis started during the Chávez presidency, but became much more pronounced during Maduro's term.[222] Emigration has been motivated by economic collapse, expansion of state control over the economy, high crime, high inflation, general uncertainty, a lack of hope for a change in gove

The exodus of millions of desperate impoverished Venezuelans to surrounding countries has been called "a risk for the entire region".[4] Millions of Venezuelan people have voluntarily emigrated from Venezuela during the Chávez and Maduro presidencies.[220][221] The crisis started during the Chávez presidency, but became much more pronounced during Maduro's term.[222] Emigration has been motivated by economic collapse, expansion of state control over the economy, high crime, high inflation, general uncertainty, a lack of hope for a change in government,[220][223] a failing public sector, and "shortages of basic necessities".[222] The PGA Group estimates more than 1.5 million Venezuelans emigrated in the 15 years between 1999 and 2014;[220] an estimated 1.8 million left in ten years through 2015.[224][225]

The UN said that in the first part of 2018, about 5,000 Venezuelans were leaving Venezuela daily.[226] A February 2019 UN reported estimated that 3.4 million Venezuelans have emigrated, and they expect another 1.9 million may emigrate in 2019.[36][226] A February 2019 UN reported estimated that 3.4 million Venezuelans have emigrated, and they expect another 1.9 million may emigrate in 2019.[36][226] The UN estimates 2.7 million have gone to the Caribbean and Latin America.[227][226] Most have gone to Colombia; estimates of Venezuelans emigrating to Colombia are 1.1 million, Peru 506,000, Chile 288,000, Ecuador 221,000, Argentina 130,000, and Brazil 96,000.[227] This is in contrast to Venezuela's high immigration rate during the 20th century.[221] Kevin Whitaker, the U.S. ambassador in Colombia, says, "Colombians, in their tens and hundreds of thousands, migrated to Venezuela in the '60s and '70s and '80s, when Venezuela was a wealthy country and Colombia was not so much. Now, more than 1 million Venezuelans, many of them since 2015, have gone to live in Colombia."[227]

Those who leave by foot are known as los caminantes (the walkers); the walk to Bogotá, Colombia is 560 kilometres (350 mi), and some walk hundreds of kilometres further, to Ecuador or Peru.[227] Alba Pereira, who helps feed and clothe about 800 walkers daily in Northern Colombia, said in 2019 she is seeing more sick, elderly and pregnant among the walkers.[227] The Colombian Red Cross has set up rest tents with food and water on the side of the roads for Venezuelans.[228] Venezuelans also cross into northern Brazil, where UNHCR has set up 10 shelters to house thousands of Venezuelans.[228] Images of Venezuelans fleeing the country by sea have raised symbolic comparisons to the images seen from the Cuban diaspora.[229]

In 1998, only 14 Venezuelans were granted U.S. asylum, and by September 1999, 1,086 Venezuelans were granted asylum according to the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services.[230] The first wave of Venezuelan emigrants were wealthy and middle class Venezuelans concerned by Chávez's rhetoric of redistributing wealth to the poor;[229] the early exodus of college-educated people with capital caused a brain drain.[222]

Emigration especially increased during the Maduro presidency.[231] This second wave of emigration consisted of lower class Venezuelans suffering directly from the economic crisis facing the country; thus, the same individuals whom Chávez attempted to aid were now seeking to emigrate, driven by worsening economic conditions, scarcity of food and medicine, and rising rates of violent crime.[229] A Tomas Perez, who studies the Venezuelan diaspora at the Central University of Venezuela, said in 2018 that because "now everyone is poor", it is mostly poor leaving the country.[222] Carlos Malamud, from a Spanish think tank, said Maduro is "using migration as a political weapon against the opposition".[222] The scale of the crisis has surpassed in four years the Cuban exodus, in which 1.7 million emigrated over a period of sixty years; Malamud says "Latin American societies aren't prepared for such wide-scale arrivals".[222]

Impacting the health care crisis in Venezuela, health care professionals are emigrating; a primary factor driving emigration to Colombia is the lack of "medicines, supplies, health providers, and basic health services" in Venezuela.[116] Since 2017, the banking sector has seen 18,000 employees leave the country.[232]

Maduro's government stopped releasing social and economic indicators, so most data rely on estimates.[115] The Institute of International Finance (IIF) stated in March 2019 that "Venezuela's economic collapse is among the world's worst in recent history".[115] A chief economist of the IIF said the crisis resulted from "policy decisions, economic mismanagement, and political turmoil", saying it is on a scale that "one would only expect from extreme natural disasters or military confrontations".[115] The April 2019 International Monetary Fund (IMF) World Economic Outlook described Venezuela as being in a "wartime economy".[6] For the fifth consecutive year, Bloomberg rated Venezuela last on its misery index in 2019.[233]

The government's main source of income is oil, with output "plummeting due to lack of investment, poor maintenance and neglect",[115] from which consultant Eduardo Fortuny expects will take 12 years to recover.[115]

Business and industryThe government's main source of income is oil, with output "plummeting due to lack of investment, poor maintenance and neglect",[115] from which consultant Eduardo Fortuny expects will take 12 years to recover.[115]

A number of foreign firms have left the nation—often due to quarrels with the socialist government—including Smurfit Kappa, Clorox, Kimberly Clark and General Mills; the departures aggravate unemployment and shortages.[235] Before the effects of the 2019 Venezuelan blackouts, the number of multinational companies in the industrial city of Valencia in Carabobo State had dropped from 5,000 when Chávez became president to a tenth of that.[236]

Airline industry

Domestic airlines are having difficulties because of hyperinflation and parts shortages, and most international airlines have left the country.[237][238] Airlines from many countries ceased operating in Venezuela, making travel to the country difficult:[238] Air Canada became the first international airline to cease Venezuela operations in March 2014 and was followed by Alitalia in April 2015.[239]

Other airlines that have left are AeroMexico, Avianca, Domestic airlines are having difficulties because of hyperinflation and parts shortages, and most international airlines have left the country.[237][238] Airlines from many countries ceased operating in Venezuela, making travel to the country difficult:[238] Air Canada became the first international airline to cease Venezuela operations in March 2014 and was followed by Alitalia in April 2015.[239]

Other airlines that have left are AeroMexico, Avianca, Delta, Lufthansa and L

Other airlines that have left are AeroMexico, Avianca, Delta, Lufthansa and LATAM.[240] According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the Government of Venezuela has not paid US$3.8 billion to international airlines in an issue involving conversion of local currency to U.S. dollars.[240] Airlines have left for other reasons, including crime against flight crews and foreign passengers, stolen baggage, and problems with the quality of jet fuel and maintenance of runways.[241][242][243] Aerolineas Argentinas left in 2017, citing security reasons,[238] and American Airlines, the last U.S. airline serving Venezuela, left on 15 March 2019, after its pilots refused to fly to Venezuela, citing safety issues.[244]

Following the increasing economic partnership between Venezuela and Turkey in October 2016, Turkish Airlines started offering direct flights from December 2016 connecting between Caracas to Istanbul (via Havana, Cuba) in an effort to "link and expand contacts" between the two countries.[245]

Iranian airline Mahan Air (blacklisted by the U.S. government since 2011[246]) began direct flights to Caracas in April 2019,[247] "signifying a growing relationship between the two nations" according to Fox News.[246]

In May 2019, the United States Department of Transport and Department of Homeland Security suspended all flights between Venezuela and the United States, due to safety and security concerns.[248] The suspension affects mainly Venezuelan airlines flying to Miami, which are Avior Airlines, LASER Airlines and Estelar Latinoamerica.

Estimated to drop by 25% in 2019, the IMF said the contraction in Venezuela's GDP—the largest since the Libyan Civil War began in 2014—was affecting all of Latin America.[6]

In 2015 the Venezuelan economy contracted 5.7% and in 2016 it contracted 18.6% according to the Venezuelan central bank;[68] after that, the government stopped producing data.[68] after that, the government stopped producing data.[115] Ecoanalítica, a Venezuelan consultant, told the Wall Street Journal that output had halved between 2016 and 2019.[115] The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and AGPV Asesores Económicos, a consulting firm based in Caracas, estimate that GDP shrunk to $80 billion in 2018 from $196 billion in 2013, making the economy smaller than Guatemala's or Ethiopia's.[115]

The annual inflation rate for consumer prices has risen hundreds and thousands of percentage points during the crisis.[4] Inflation in Venezuela remained high during Chávez's presidency. By 2010, inflation removed any advancement of wage increases,[249] and by 2014 at 69%[250] it was the highest in the world.[251][252] In November 2016, Venezuela entered a period of hyperinflation,[253] with inflation reaching 4,000% in 2017;[124] the Venezuelan government "essentially stopped" producing inflation estimates in early 2018.[7] At the end of 2018, inflation had reached 1.35 million percent.[254]

In the 2017 Christmas season, some shops stopped using price tags since prices would inflate so quickly.[255] From 2017 to 2019, some Venezuelans became video game gold farmers and could be seen playing games such as RuneScape to sell in-game currency or characters for real currency; players could make more money than salaried workers by earning only a few dollars per day.[256][257] Some of these "gold farmers" will use cryptocurrencies as an intermediary currency before converting into Bolivares, as indicated in this interview.

In October 2018, the IMF has estimated that inflation would reach 10,000,000% by the end of 2019.[258]

In early 2019, the monthly minimum salary was the equivalent of US$5.50 (18,000 sovereign bolivars)—less than the price of a Happy Meal at McDonald's.[6] Ecoanalitica estimated that prices jumped by 465% in the first two-and-a-half months of 2019.[115] The Wall Street Journal stated in March 2019 that the "main cause of hyperinflation is the ce

In the 2017 Christmas season, some shops stopped using price tags since prices would inflate so quickly.[255] From 2017 to 2019, some Venezuelans became video game gold farmers and could be seen playing games such as RuneScape to sell in-game currency or characters for real currency; players could make more money than salaried workers by earning only a few dollars per day.[256][257] Some of these "gold farmers" will use cryptocurrencies as an intermediary currency before converting into Bolivares, as indicated in this interview.

In October 2018, the IMF has estimated that inflation would reach 10,000,000% by the end of 2019.[258]