During his speech at the UN, Biden called for “free and fair” elections in Venezuela

Joe Biden (REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque) (KEVIN LAMARQUE/)

the american president Joe Biden called on the Venezuelan government and opposition to engage in dialogue with a view to “free and fair elections” while speaking before the United Nations General Assembly on Wednesday.in a presentation in which he did not touch on the issue of the waves of migrants arriving in the country.

He stressed that “political pressure” caused six million people to leave Venezuela due to lack of opportunities, in the midst of a deep economic and social crisis that has lasted for years.

Biden hardly spoke of Latin America when discussing the great challenges facing the world.

He even ignored the issue of migrants, a veritable hot potato for Democrats ahead of the midterm elections scheduled for November, is being exploited by Republicans who focus attention on the issue by busing migrants to New York and Washington. Many of those migrants are Venezuelan.

In the only other reference to Latin America, Biden said that the United States supported the expansion of the UN Security Council and the creation of “permanent benches for Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.”

The Council currently has five permanent seats, with veto power (United States, Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom), and ten non-permanent.

Biden indicated that he was in favor of a Council “more inclusive, that can better respond to the needs of the world”, and that the permanent members “refrain from using the veto, except in extraordinary situations”.

He also proposed to “transparently negotiate debt forgiveness for low-income countries” to facilitate their development.

Venezuelan migrants

Asylum-seeking migrants, mostly from Venezuela, climb an embankment after crossing the Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas (REUTERS/Paul Ratje)
Asylum-seeking migrants, mostly from Venezuela, climb an embankment after crossing the Rio Grande into El Paso, Texas (REUTERS / Paul Ratje) (PAUL RATJE /)

Venezuelans overtook Guatemalans and Hondurans last month to become the second most common nationality, after Mexicans, among people apprehended at the US border.

Authorities detained Venezuelan citizens 25,349 times in August, up 43% from the 17,652 in July and the 6,301 interceptions in August 2021, according to data released Monday that reflected a sharp demographic shift.

An estimated 6.8 million Venezuelans have fled their country since the economy tanked in 2014, most to countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. But the relative strength of the US economy since the COVID-19 pandemic has made Venezuelan migrants also look north. In addition, US policies and strained relations with the Venezuelan government make it very difficult to send them back home.

The effect is visible in the daily headlines. Some 50 migrants Florida Governor Ron DeSantis sent last week to the luxurious island of Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts were Venezuelans. So were five of the six men found drowned in the Rio Grande near Eagle Pass by US agents in early September.

Venezuela has one of the highest inflation rates in the world and some three quarters of the population live with less than $1.90 a day, an international standard of extreme poverty. The monthly minimum wage, which is paid in bolivars even though the economy works with dollars, is the equivalent of 15 dollars. Many people do not have access to clean running water or electricity.

The pandemic has made jobs even scarcer in Latin America and the Caribbean and has made the United States a more attractive place to live. At the same time, Washington‘s strained relationship with Caracas makes it very difficult to expel Venezuelan migrants under a pandemic rule known as Title 42, which authorities use to deny people the opportunity to seek asylum on the grounds of prevent COVID-19 infections.

Under pressure from the Biden administration, Mexico introduced flight restrictions to limit Venezuelan immigration to the United States, but then many opted for the dangerous journey by land.

(With information from AP)

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