Portuguese emigrés returning from the horrors of life in Venezuela have literally flooded Madeira – though little is being said of the consequences here on the mainland.
Vice-president of the self-governing archipelago Pedro Calado estimates that already as many as 8000 people with Madeiran roots have arrived back on the islands, either to re-make their lives ‘back home’, rethink plans, or sit things out until the situation in Venezuela returns to some kind of normality.
In the meantime, Madeira’s social infrastructures are struggling: particularly schools and hospitals.
On the plus side, the island archipelago’s dozy demographics have suddenly spiked with the kind of “exponential growth” that hasn’t been seen for generations.
But how to cope with it all is the question. Says Calado every Portuguese national on the islands will be treated the same, irrespective of where they came from. The problem is Madeira’s 2018 budget simply didn’t reckon on this year’s 8000 new arrivals, many of whom are now reproducing.
In Madeira’s parliament yesterday Calado said it is time for the State to step in and offer financial help.
Up till now, he stressed, Madeira has received “no financial support whatsoever” and fleeing emigrés are far from seeing any kind of light in the tunnel that could lead them ‘home to Venezuela’.
Despite emergency decrees issued by the South American country’s president Nicolas Maduro – and the fact that it sits on some of the world’s largest oil reserves – the situation remains dire with hyperinflation, insecurity on all fronts and a widespread lack of food, basic services and medication.