Venezuelan Asylum Seekers in Brazil

In the state of Roraima, Brazil, there are increasing numbers of Venezuelan asylum seekers. In 2015, the number was 280; according to Brazilian federal police, the first half of 2017 already boasts 6,438 asylum seekers. They have left Venezuela to seek employment opportunities in Brazil, as they face significant hardships in securing resources and/or employment in Venezuela. Despite the hardships and lack of opportunities Brazil proffers, asylum seekers indicate that it is an improvement over the situation they faced in Venezuela. Additionally, there are those who depend on travelling to Brazil to get supplies that they are unable to get in Venezuela.

The crisis in Venezuela, which is creating a humanitarian crisis and is pushing Venezuelans out of the country to look for better opportunities elsewhere, such as in neighbouring Brazil, poses various challenges. Brazil is not a strong economic state and there are an increasing number of asylum seekers from Venezuela. Another issue is the quality of the work that Venezuelan asylum seekers can acquire. This is evident in the experiences of many who have left Venezuela, such as a woman who was a stay-at-home mother in Venezuela; she came to Boa Vista in Brazil and is now a sex trade worker. She stated that she has a better quality of life now, but this raises concerns. In efforts to assist Venezuelans affected by the crisis, including those within and beyond the countries’ borders, sustained efforts are essential in protecting vulnerable people from exploitation. Additionally, with the pressure being faced by the Brazilian authorities in addressing the increasing number of asylum seekers and their needs, programs that assist in that dimension are also important to improving the quality of life of Venezuelan asylum seekers. Furthermore, finding ways to improve the situation in Venezuela and therefore prevent the degree of displacement currently occurring is another difficult task, given the political instability in Venezuela as well as the inability of the government to provide effective assistance to its citizens.

The crisis in Venezuela can be viewed through interconnected political and economic perspectives. In 2013, following the death of President Hugo Chavez, Nicolas Maduro, who is also from the United Socialist Party (PSUV), became President of Venezuela. There is a political rift in Venezuela between Chavistas, who remain supportive of Maduro, and the opposition, which argues that the socialist regime has eroded Venezuela’s democratic institutions and economy. Oil accounts for about 95 percent of Venezuela’s export revenue and was used to fund social programs. But the oil revenue has decreased with the decrease in oil prices, and this has led to cuts to government programs. On March 29, 2017, a constitutional crisis occurred, with the opposition-controlled National Assembly losing immunity. There have been numerous protests and clashes. In terms of the humanitarian situation, Venezuela is facing food shortages, electricity issues, and overcrowded hospitals, which has led to a humanitarian crisis that is interconnected with the political crisis.

The situation in Venezuela and the impact it is having on Venezuelans, to the extent where they are forced to look for employment and a better quality of life elsewhere, raises concerns about possible future implications. The crisis in Venezuela continues to grow in magnitude and the effects that it has had on numerous Venezuelans is dramatic. The destabilization of the region is very concerning in terms of the effects it can have on the welfare of Venezuelans, including their economic and personal security.