Venezuela is experiencing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis. Hunger is widespread and there is a severe shortage of medicines. The UN estimates that more than four million people have now fled what was once South America’s richest nation.
Venezuela is in the grips of what is now the world’s second largest refugee crisis after Syria. But unlike Syria, Venezuela is not mired in civil war, and the country is sitting on the world’s largest proven oil reserves. How could such a rich nation be driven into ruin? Where has the country’s wealth gone, and why are its people starving? Corruption and mismanagement are driving displacement worldwide. The majority of the world’s refugees and migrants are fleeing from countries in the top 10 of Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index – places like Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan and Somalia.
Venezuela was once one of the world’s wealthiest countries and a showcase of democracy. The country enjoys an abundance of natural resources, including oil, gold, diamonds and coltan. But rather than invest in its people and economy, this wealth has been squandered. Today Venezuela is mired in corruption, and deindustrialization, debt, political conflict, authoritarianism and poverty are the order of the day. The billions in profits generated by the oil business during the boom years between 2003 and 2014 have largely ended up in private pockets. And once oil prices collapsed in 2014, Venezuela was plunged into economic crisis. Nicolás Maduro, who rose to the presidency after Hugo Chávez died in 2013, has installed loyal military officers in key economic positions. Venezuela is now little more than a state-run criminal enterprise. At the same time, the country has become a pawn in a geopolitical contest over power and natural resources, with the US, Russia and China all looking to assert their own interests.
Every two seconds, a person is forced to flee their home. Today, more than 70 million people have been displaced worldwide. The DW documentary series ‘Displaced’ sheds light on the causes of this crisis and traces how wealthy industrialized countries are contributing to the exodus from the Global South.