11 Dec. 2017
Countries across Latin America and beyond have received a growing number of Venezuelans fleeing economic hardship, crime and what critics call an increasingly authoritarian government. The once-prosperous country, home to the world's largest proven oil reserves, is struggling with a profound recession, widespread unemployment, chronic shortages and inflation that the opposition-led Congress said could soon top 2,000 percent. As conditions there worsen, nearby cities like Brazilian city of Boa Vista are struggling with one of the biggest migrations in recent Latin American history. With limited infrastructure, social services and jobs to offer migrants, Brazilian authorities fear a full-fledged humanitarian crisis. In Roraima, the rural state of which Boa Vista is the capital, the governor last week decreed a "social emergency," putting local services on alert for mounting health and security demands. Not even Venezuela's government knows for certain how many of its 30 million people have fled in recent years. Some sociologists have estimated the number to be as high as 2 million, although President Nicolas Maduro's leftist government disputes that figure. Some migrants in Boa Vista are finding ways to get by, finding cheap accommodation or lodging in the few shelters, like a local gym, that authorities have provided. Others wander homeless, some turning to crime, like prostitution, adding law enforcement woes to the social challenges. REUTERS/Nacho Doce SEARCH "VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS" FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "WIDER IMAGE" FOR ALL STORIES.