Portugal holds collective breath as Venezuela descends further into chaos

With EU chiefs already saying yesterday’s ‘election result’ in Venezuela is unlikely to be recognised, Portugal is holding its breath, aware that thousands of emigrés could be on their way ‘home to their roots’ to escape the escalating chaos.

It’s the scenario the country has done its best to say would never happen.

Earlier this year when emigrés started returning en-masse, the consensus was that they would all be returning once things calmed down (click here).

But they haven’t calmed down.

In Madeira, the archipelago from which so many set out to Venezuela in search of a better life, president of the regional government Miguel Albuquerque is already talking about costs – stressing the government is going to have to help Madeira meet them.

“We are going to continue doing everything we can to integrate people in the land which also belongs to them, he said – stressing ‘returners’ “have rights and should be welcomed”. But Madeira’s help “has costs and implications” on its budget and will need the “force of national solidarity”.

Meantime, Albuquerque said he hopes Portugal can set up support structures to get vital supplies to emigrés remaining in Venezuela.

The situation is likely to change in the coming days as the embattled country hurtles towards dictatorship.

Along with condemnation from the EU, the United States too has decried “the architects of authoritarianism”, warning it will take “strong and swift action”.

For now, these are just words. There is no indication what kind of action the US was referring to, nor what EU condemnation can achieve.

Closer to home, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Panama and Costa Rica have all announced they do not recognise the legitimacy of Sunday’s results, totted up after a day of heightened violence in which 14 people – one of them a 15-year-old – were killed and 58 arrested by forces supporting President Nicolás Maduro.

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