BOGOTA – Colombian presidential candidate Juan Carlos Pinzon said on Thursday that if he wins the 2018 election, he will implement a plan for attending to an influx of Venezuelans fleeing the crisis in their homeland.
Pinzon, a former defense minister and ambassador to the United States who is running for president as an independent, told EFE in an interview in Bogota that his “refugee plan” would be internationally funded and enlist the support of the United Nations.
“Allowing (Venezuelans) to go into any city, to any town in Colombia, like what’s happening now, is causing disputes,” crime and employment problems, Pinzon said, adding that the influx of people also is putting a strain on public services.
“What’s happening in Venezuela is not that some Venezuelans have made their way over here. It’s that they’re fleeing because of hunger and fear,” the politician said, stressing the need for orderly migration.
Pinzon, who says many people leaving Venezuela are of Colombian descent, served in key positions under President Juan Manuel Santos but now accuses his former boss of not having a policy for dealing with the influx.
Oil-rich Venezuela is racked by a severe recession, runaway inflation and shortages of medicine and basic foodstuffs, while the opposition says the establishment this year of a plenipotentiary National Constituent Assembly has stripped away all vestiges of democracy in the Caribbean nation.
Leftist Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, for his part, said last month after his party routed the opposition in gubernatorial elections that his government is being forced to ward off aggression and attempts at destabilization orchestrated by the United States and its allies, which plan to “bring a coalition of countries to intervene militarily in Venezuela.”