WASHINGTON – The International Monetary Fund has expressed “grave concern” about the humanitarian and economic crisis facing Venezuela, declaring that it was generally not welcomed it stands ready to assist.
The concerns come amidst an increase in the number of Venezuelans seeking refuge in neighbouring Caribbean countries from the political and economic situation in the South American nation.
Managing Director of the IMF Christine Lagarde did not identify which countries were on the receiving end of Venezuelan émigrés, but said “friends and colleagues” of the IMF were providing updates.
Lagarde told journalists: “We are really very, very concerned about the humanitarian crisis that is unfolding in front our eyes in Venezuela. Although we do not have information from the field from Venezuela and have been persona non grata for the past 15 years or so, but we hear enough Colombian friends and colleagues and others in the region who are on the receiving end of flow of refugees out of Venezuela. So this is very high concern for us.”
Like Colombia, neighbouring Trinidad and Tobago has seen a huge influx of Venezuelan migrants.
While Barbados has had fewer numbers of refugees, Prime Minister Mia Mottley has already given the assurance that Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean Community have agreed with international counterparts that the region must remain a peace of zone and would not interfere in Venezuela’s domestic affairs.
And while CARICOM has held meetings with other groups including the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union and Russia on the Venezuelan crisis, the leaders of Jamaica, St Lucia, Haiti and the Bahamas met independently on the crisis with the US President Donald Trump, who is at the centre of the ongoing diplomatic row with the Nicolas Maduro administration in Caracas.
Venezuela has blamed the US for its current state because of the various sanctions on government officials, individuals and companies.
Besides the economic and humanitarian turmoil, Venezuela has been faced with an international political divide as to whether recognise Maduro or Juan Guaidó as president.
But Lagarde said the IMF was not prepared to take a position, explaining that it would have to be guided by its membership.
Responding to questions from journalists at the annual IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings here on Thursday, the IMF chief said: “This is the way it has always worked at the IMF so we are waiting to be guided by the membership and I know that it is in process as we speak from quite a few members. And as soon as that happens we will follow through.
“We have done as much preparatory work as we could, drawing on information that is out there in order to be prepared to act as quickly and as swiftly as we can.
“And it will require, given the size of the humanitarian crisis and the massive economic crisis that the country is in, a multi-tasked and multi-pronged effort on the part of many. We stand ready to do that as well.