Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno revealed on Wednesday that the cost of taking in half a million Venezuelan refugees is $500 million a year.
“I have just received a report that more than 500,000 Venezuelans already live in Ecuador at a cost of close to 500 million dollars per year, while 3,000 new Venezuelan brothers enter Ecuador every day,” he said at a press conference.
Moreno claimed that Ecuador offers them the best opportunities in Latin America, but also admitted that the current inflow of Venezuelan refugees surpasses his country’s “reception capacity.”
“Thousands of Venezuelan children today study in Ecuador, and we have provided medical assistance to Venezuelan brothers in 1 million cases,” he said. “We take care of them in health and we offer them assistance so that their forced stay is something more bearable.”
“No pierdo la esperanza de que sean los mismos hermanos venezolanos quienes encuentren, al interior de su sistema, una solución democrática y justa para esta crisis humanitaria”, @Lenin Moreno. #AbiertosAlMundo #EcuadorConMásProsperidad pic.twitter.com/NLWZDUO5Xg
— Comunicación Ecuador (@ComunicacionEc) July 17, 2019
He also said that he “had not lost hope” that a solution will be found to Venezuela’s dire economic and humanitarian crisis presided over by Nicolás Maduro’s socialist dictatorship, but warned that any outside intervention would be “useless.”
“We repudiate authoritarianism and stand in solidarity with the sister people of Venezuela, especially the most innocent, such as children, pregnant women, and the elderly who have to endure the cold of the street, the pain of an empty stomach, and abandoning their roots,” he said. “I do not lose hope that the Venezuelan people themselves will find a democratic and just solution for this humanitarian crisis.”
According to recent data from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), at least four million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015 and, of these, 3.1 million remain in Latin America.
Despite leading a nominally left-wing administration, Moreno has joined the United States and the majority of Western democracies in denouncing the actions of the Maduro regime, and has recognized the legitimacy of Venezuelan President Juan Guaidó.
Last August, Moreno cut ties with the Bolivarian Alliance of the Peoples of Our America (ALBA), a left-wing alternative to the Organization of American States (OAS), after expressing “frustration” with the crimes and dictatorial nature of the Maduro regime. In October, the country formally cut all diplomatic ties with Venezuela, undoing the close relationship built under his predecessor Rafael Correa with former leader Hugo Chávez and other far-left regimes.
Maduro has responded by calling Ecuador’s efforts to vet Venezuelan refugees entering the country, following the gruesome murder of a pregnant Ecuadorian woman and her unborn child at the hands of her estranged Venezuelan boyfriend, a form of “Nazi persecution.”
“The Venezuelan migrants who live in Ecuador, they are the object of Nazi fascist persecution on the part of the government of Ecuador, [and are] being beaten and persecuted,” he declared at the time, adding that he would send planes over to Ecuador for refugees who wanted to “return to live in peace in Venezuela.”