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Venezuelan Exiles Call For Humanitarian Crisis Declaration On Colombian Border

Tim Padgett
Pablo Medina (right) and Rafael Moros of the International Coalition for Venezuela at the Arepazo Dos in Doral on Wednesday, with their letter calling for recognition of the refugee crisis on Colombia's border.

Venezuela’s humanitarian crisis is now a crisis in next-door Colombia. Thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing their country’s economic collapse each day, and pressure is mounting to help them. The diaspora here in South Florida is making an especially strong call.

Former Venezuelan Senator and opposition leader Pablo Medina just arrived in Miami after touring the Venezuelan-Colombian border. Some 600,000 Venezuelans now reside in Colombia, and thousands more keep coming by the day.

They’re escaping the catastrophic food and medicine shortages in Venezuela under the authoritarian socialist regime there. Medina says conditions for those refugees in Colombia is now worsening as well.

“Thousands of Venezuelan women and men knocking on the doors of homes there asking for food,” Medina said at the Arepazo Dos restaurant in Doral on Wednesday. “Hospitals are inundated.”

Medina heads a new expat group called the International Coalition for Venezuela. In Doral, he and other members said they’ve sent a letter to Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos and the U.N. asking for a formal humanitarian crisis declaration for the border refugees - a step that could lead to the construction of better camps for them.

“This letter is important because we need that humanitarian help around the world going to that border zone,” said Miami lawyer Rafael Moros, the Coalition's secretary.

Colombia has begun tightening border controls in response to the emergency.