Sep 20, 2019

Venezuela refugee crisis overwhelms Colombia: "We don't have the money"

Crossing the Simon Bolivar bridge into Colombia. Photo: Schneyder Mendoza/AFP/Getty Images

Colombia expects the number of Venezuelan refugees within its borders to rise from an already staggering 1.4 million to 3 million by 2021 if the current crisis continues, Ambassador Francisco Santos told reporters at a briefing on Wednesday, adding, “to be very sincere, if it goes to 3 million, we don’t have the money.”

The big picture: Venezuela’s exodus now rivals Syria’s, and countries including Ecuador and Peru are taking steps to stem the flow of refugees. Not Colombia. “With this government, with this president, that’s going to be the policy: open doors,” Santos says.

  • While he said Colombia's handling of the crisis should be an example for the world, it is “causing huge problems, especially in the health budgets, the education budgets.”
  • “Even the smallest town in Colombia has Venezuelan migrants, and a lot of them,” Santos says. In big cities like Bogotá, “the musicality of the language in the streets is changing.”
  • It's a new phenomenon for Colombia. The country hasn't seen a big immigration wave since arrivals from the Ottoman Empire more than a century ago, Santos says.
  • “I’m greatly surprised at how people have received them. I think the solidarity has been huge. But I also think that the tension is beginning to increase because of the numbers. You’re starting to hear a different discourse.”

The bottom line: “We don’t know,” Santos admitted when asked how Colombia will handle this in the longer term. He said more aid was needed from the U.S. and Europe, as well as from international organizations.

Go deeper: The world shuts its doors.

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Delta to buy 20% stake in Latin America's largest airline

Photo: Dan Kitwood/Getty Images

Delta Air Lines is planning to buy a 20% stake in Latin America’s largest airline, LATAM, for $1.9 billion, after its rival American Airlines announced a joint venture with the Chilean-based airline, CNBC reports.

The big picture: Through joint ventures and minority stakes, Delta has been trying to broaden its trips to more international destinations. LATAM has hubs in major South American cities, with domestic service in Chile, Brazil, Colombia, Peru, Argentina and Ecuador.

Go deeper: Personal devices spark war over planes' windows

Keep ReadingArrowSep 26, 2019

Trump lowering the number of refugees permitted into U.S. to 18,000

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration is proposing to cut the number of refugees permitted to resettle in the U.S. next year to just 18,000 — down from a record-low of 30,000 last year, according to a State Department press release on Thursday.

Why it matters: The administration also plans to prioritize refugees who have been persecuted for religious beliefs, Iraqis who have helped the U.S. overseas, and legitimate refugees from Northern Triangle countries, per the release. This would be the fourth time the Trump administration lowered the refugee cap, and it had reportedly discussed lowering it to zero. There are more displaced people in the world today than at any point since World War II, according to the United Nations.

Go deeperArrowSep 26, 2019

Pope Francis denounces countries that sell weapons but deny refugees

Pope Francis with a statue depicting migrants and refugees. Photo by Vincenzo Pinto/Pool/AFP/Getty Images

Pope Francis in a sermon at St. Peter’s Square on Sunday criticized countries that produce and sell weapons for wars beyond their borders and then refuse to admit refugees fleeing those same conflicts, according to Reuters.

Why it matters: The Argentine pope, whose parents were Italian immigrants, has used his pontificate to defend migrants and scorn strict immigration policies enacted by President Trump and populist anti-immigrant politicians in Europe, per Reuters.

Go deeperArrowSep 29, 2019