Central America's fake refugees – and Venezuela's real ones
Nothing makes the middle finger-infused migrant drama at the Tijuana border look more plastic and phony than news of the real one, over in Venezuela, as real refugees pour over borders.
It sounds harsh, and maybe there are a few valid sob stories among the handpicked group chosen to "challenge" the mighty yánqui empire for the "right" to open borders. Already, at least 158 have been let in, but if they are anything like previous refugees being let in, it's reasonable to be skeptical. What's really harsh is the horror of the real refugees from socialism out on the Brazilian (and undoubtedly Colombian) borderlands. The story written in the New York Times today along with its many photos will overwhelm you:
PACARAIMA, Brazil – Hundreds turn up each day, many arriving penniless and gaunt as they pass a tattered flag that signals they have reached the border.
Once they cross, many cram into public parks and plazas teeming with makeshift homeless shelters, raising concerns about drugs and crime. The lucky ones sleep in tents and line up for meals provided by soldiers – pregnant women, the disabled and families with young children are often given priority. The less fortunate huddle under tarps that crumple during rainstorms.
The scenes are reminiscent of the waves of desperate migrants who have escaped the wars in Syria and Afghanistan, spurring a backlash in Europe.
Five thousand are pouring through into just Brazil each day now, staggering miles across wilderness on foot, all of their savings burned up in Venezuela's now-18,000% inflation. One middle-class woman told the New York Times that quitting her longtime government job gave her a severance that paid for half a chicken, a bag of rice, and a small banana. She was utterly impoverished.
Here's what makes these refugees different from the ones coming in under the organized aegis of a left-wing non-government organization and the complicity of Mexican officials.
They aren't organized. Their move outward is genuinely spontaneous, it's desperate, and it's uncontrolled. The five thousand a day flooding across the Brazilian border are fleeing for their lives from the horror of socialism, not chronic poverty and gangs enabled by the society in general. They have no money, no food, no medical care, no medicine, no jobs, no voting rights (elections are rigged, Cuban-style, by their Cuban masters), no hopes for a military coup, and no aid (Venezuela's socialist government denies there is a crisis and refuses to permit any aid). Gigantic marches did nothing. And now no do-gooder group from the outside is organizing a caravan to teach Brazil a lesson from Venezuela. No NGO is going to be able to advance its left-wing ideas by bringing in people warning of the horrors of socialism. So people are just running, voting with their feet.
What's more, they are running to their first country of refuge, Brazil, the first country outside their own, not country-shopping for the best welfare deals. They are just running for their lives to the first place that will take them. Brazil is not a place of prime economic opportunity, given its own socialist government, which is why the Venezuelans take up nuisance jobs that annoy Brazilians, such as squeegee men and hookers, out of desperation. But it's better than what they had, digging garbage dumps over in Venezuela. Axios, which has this horror story up in its list of top ten feature stories today, has a map that shows that the bordering countries are being overwhelmed by the refugees. First country of refuge, indeed.
Here's another thing: the refugees interviewed by the Times actually had sympathy for the Brazilians, saying they understood that "[t]heir country is being invaded," as the headline quoting a refugee read, which you'll never hear from a Central American caravan migrant participant, all of whom view migration as just another entitlement owed to them for free and on demand by the gringo. The Venezuelans are normal people, thrown into an abnormal situation by socialism and its inevitable results, and their plight is genuinely worthy of sympathy.
The New York Times never mentions the socialism. But what we see from it is probably the world's worst refugee crisis, as Axios notes, a very real one, that shocks the conscience in a way the organized, staged, politically charged, and phony Central American migrant caravan does not.