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Border tensions highlight Venezuelans’ economic distress
August 20, 2018, 11:51 am

Maduro is hoping that his new measures, including raising minimum wages by 3,000 per cent, will curb the economic downward spiral [PPIO]


Calm returned to the streets of the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima Monday after President Michel Temer ordered the military and security forces to the area.

On Saturday, Pacaraima residents clashed with Venezuelans who had streamed across the border, particularly through the border town of Santa Elena de Uairen.

The Venezuela authorities since 2016 opened the border crossings with neighboring countries such as Brazil and Colombia, to allow desperate Venezuelans to cross over and purchase their dietary and medicinal needs. But one of the challenges was the devaluation of the Venezuelan bolivar currency – now heading toward nearly 1,000,000 per cent devaluation.

Many Venezuelans have taken to staying in neighboring Latin American countries.

According to immigration officials in Pacaraima, at least 1,200 Venezuelans had slept on the streets and makeshift dwellings in the border town.

But they have now all been forced to return to the Venezuelan side of the border as the security situation returns to stable in Pacaraima.

Venezuela is now in one of the worst economic crises in the history of Latin America.

In just the past year, food protests have increased exponentially as prices skyrocketed. The crime rate has soared with violent robberies taking place including hundreds of looting incidents.

Venezuelans now face multiple daily power outages while businesses shut down and factory output drops significantly.

Even for those who can afford to buy food, staple scarcity has become a major challenge for the government.

Venezuela has been unable to sufficiently import its most basic needs as the drastic drop in oil prices since 2014 has created an enormous financial shortfall. Oil revenues have fallen from nearly $90 billion to about $20 billion as foreign debt has mushroomed to $140 billion or so.

Venezuela, like some emerging economies, has based nearly its entire GDP growth on oil exports. The recent surge in oil prices will provide some reprieve but Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro on Monday raised minimum wages by 3,000 per cent as he officially devalued the currency by 90 per cent.

The BRICS Post with inputs from Agencies

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