Crisis in Venezuela spurs many Portuguese emigrés back to Europe

With the political situation in Brazil already worrying its population of resident Portuguese, life appears much worse for those who chose Venezuela as their home-from-home.

According to reports, the country is “on the brink of civil war”.

Food and other basics are scarce, electricity is being cut off, public disorder is commonplace and the pillaging of shops and businesses is affecting thousands of Portuguese emigrés.

Said Maria de Lurdes Traça for the Portuguese communities in Venezuela: “The situation is unsustainable”.

“People with family in Portugal are returning, or emigrating elsewhere – but for those with businesses, who have lived their lives here, it is more difficult”, explained businessman André Pita.

Last week, a mob stormed a Portuguese-owned supermarket – part of the Central Madeirense chain – while the day before around 100 people attempted to do the same in another part of the troubled country.

Clips uploaded on Youtube have been broadcasted throughout Europe.

“People are hungry, and when they are hungry, they don’t think”, Pita told reporters.

Olavo Manica, president of the social assembly of the Madeiran community in Venezuela, said: “Portuguese people are being badly affected as they are the people who run more than 80% of the grocer’s, bakery shops and supermarkets in the country”.

Manica added that the country’s government is going all out to censor reports on the situation.

“The government has prohibited the press from carrying details on the number of deaths, and for this reason, no one knows for certain. It’s all a mystery”.

What is clear is that the government has ordered people to put their clocks forward 30 minutes, in order to save on the time required for public space illumination, reports Correio da Manhã.

In the meantime, there are power cuts that leave various parts of the country without power for “seven to eight hours a day”, while civil servants are on a two-day week – again as a form of saving on electricity.

Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro has blamed the drought on his country’s problems, but as many have pointed out, the drought has affected the entire continent, and only Venezuela is on the brink of civil war.

Meanwhile, in Lisbon today for conferences at the Gulbenkian Foundation on Thursday and Friday, Colombia’s former minister of finance Guilhermo Perry has said that “politics is responsible for the majority of problems in Brazil and Venezuela” today.

Talking to Económico, Perry said he expected the economic problems to spiral into a major humanitarian crisis.

“If Maduro leaves, the new government will have to face strong challenges and an extremely slow recovery as a consequence of decades of destruction of the private economy and capacities of the State”, he told reporters.

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