Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza dismissed Angelina Jolie’s meeting with Venezuelan refugees this weekend as an orchestrated “show” and accused the United Nations Human Rights Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) of inflating the number of people who have fled the country.
Over the weekend, Jolie, who works as a UNHCR envoy, visited Venezuelan refugees in the Colombian border town of Maicao, where she pleaded with the international community to provide more financial assistance to those fleeing the humanitarian crisis in their homeland.
“This is a life and death situation for millions of Venezuelans,” Jolie said in a statement. “But UNHCR has received only a fraction of the funds it needs, to do even the bare minimum to help them survive.”
The exodus from Venezuela is the largest and fastest movement of people in Latin America's recent history.
— UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency (@Refugees) June 8, 2019
Over four million people have fled Venezuela in recent years in response to the country’s devastating economic and humanitarian crisis, around 1.3 million of whom are living in Colombia. The crisis has been progressively triggered by over two decades of socialist governance under Hugo Chávez and his successor Nicolás Maduro.
Jolie’s visit, which attracted significant worldwide media attention, drew a furious response from Arreaza, who accused the U.N. of “recycling” the “migration issue that had disappeared from the media since January” as part of an “obsessive aggression against the country.”
“With this media recycling, the UNHCR returns to its role of weaponizing Venezuelan migration: they lie and inflate figures to ask for and receive more resources towards unknown sources, in the midst of a parasitic scramble, at the expense of the dignity and human rights of the Venezuelan people,” wrote Arreaza in a prolonged Twitter rant.
“They could at least choose their locations for the show better,” he continued. “It is extremely paradoxical to express concern for Venezuelans from the Colombian region Guajira, a territory marred by extreme poverty and abandoned by the Colombian state, where thousands of children have died of malnutrition.”
En este reciclaje mediático ACNUR vuelve a su rol de instrumentalizar la migración venezolana: mienten e inflan cifras para pedir y recibir más recursos con destino incierto, en medio de una rebatiña parasitaria, a costa de la dignidad y los Derechos Humanos de los venezolanos
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) June 9, 2019
Arreaza is known for his aggressive assaults against the United States and those opposed to the Maduro regime. Last month, he accused the Trump administration of “financing and promoting” an uprising in Venezuela, after opposition leader Juan Guaidó claimed that sections of the military had agreed to recognize him as the country’s legitimate leader.
“The Americans are leading this coup and giving orders to this man Guaidó. We are not threatening anyone with the use of violence,” he said. “It’s the United States, it’s the opposition. The U.S hand has been behind all attempts at coups since 2001 and this time they are not behind, but they are ahead.”
In February, Arreaza also took to Twitter to push back against comments in President Donald Trump’s State of the Union Address about the evils of socialism, where he declared that “America will never be a socialist country.”
“What @realdonaldtrump hides with his criticism of Socialism is a complete embrace for Fascism,” Arreaza wrote at the time. “Socialism is a struggle to build a world without war and in Venezuela, it is resistance and survival against imperialist greed for oil.”
Arreaza is the late Chávez’s son-in-law.