WASHINGTON (Circa) — While touring the Colombian-Venezuelan border region earlier this week, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley blamed Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for his country's financial crisis.
"But we really have to question how long this can be sustainable," said Haley on Wednesday. "At some point, Maduro is going to have to be dealt with."
At least 1 million Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia in the past year, according to Agence France Presse. They are fleeing an economic disaster that continues to plague Venezuela, forcing people to seek refuge abroad, despite the country's vast oil wealth.
RT @USUN: Thousands of people escape Venezuela every day, walking hours in the heat over this bridge, simply to get a meal or medicine for their families. Due to the corrupt Maduro regime, Colombia is now home to a million Venezuelans on any given day. #MaduroMustGo pic.twitter.com/J8Tc65O3s7— Nikki Haley (@nikkihaley) August 8, 2018
"These were people that were doing all that they could to have a better life and now they're having to come over to Colombia by the thousands to get help," said Haley. "And this all goes to the fact that I can't stress enough: The Maduro regime is doing this to the Venezuelan people."
Hyperinflation has devalued Venezuelan currency to the point where citizens are having trouble keeping up with prices on basic goods. The International Monetary Fund warned in July that the inflation rate could reach 1 million percent by December, putting Venezuela on par with Germany's disastrous economic crisis after World War I. In an attempt to curb the problem, Maduro proposed simply removing the last three zeroes off new bills in July.
Venezuela has the largest proven oil reserves in the world, but these natural resources have proven to be both a blessing and a curse. Approximately 95 percent of the country's export earnings come from oil. When prices were high, the Venezuelan government used some revenue from oil exports to help alleviate poverty. When prices went down in 2014, oil profits were no longer able to sustain government programs. The government's price controls over certain goods also caused local businesses to fail, leaving citizens with few options from which to purchase basic necessities.
Haley pledged $9 million in aid during her visit, bringing the U.S. total to $46 million. The money will be put toward the Colombian government's efforts to help the fleeing Venezuelan population.