CUCUTA, Colombia – President Juan Manuel Santos called on his fellow Colombians to show generosity toward Venezuelans fleeing from the crisis devastating the neighboring country.
“I would like to ask all Colombians to steer clear of xenophobia and hostilities toward Venezuelans,” said Santos in the border city of Cucuta. “It is easy to manipulate people’s pain, which is why I ask the candidates running for office to avoid using this situation to exacerbate fear for electoral ends.”
He reminded the citizens of Colombia that Venezuelans were “very generous toward Colombians” over the last several decades, when millions of them emigrated to Venezuela looking for a better future as oil industry workers.
“We are facing a new situation and we need to face it together. We all have to come together,” Santos said regarding the huge numbers of Venezuelans entering the country.
Santos blamed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro’s policies for the situation and criticized his refusal to accept the humanitarian aid of all kinds that Colombia has offered him.
He asked Maduro to “let Colombians help at least stop the suffering of the Venezuelan people caused by hunger and lack of medication.”
The Colombian president said that just as it is in the United States’ best interests to foster Central American development and not build a wall to keep out migrants from that region, “the best solution is to allow humanitarian aid into Venezuela.”
There are currently 550,000 Venezuelans living in Colombia, plus 37,000 crossing the border every day, many of whom seeking to buy food and medicines.