Govt. considers evacuating Dutch from crisis-stricken Venezuela

Thousands of Venezuelans take to the street, demanding that their govt step down and end the crisis, Apr 2017
Thousands of Venezuelans take to the street, demanding that their govt step down and end the crisis, Apr 2017. Photo: Voice of America / Wikimedia Commons

The Dutch government is preparing a possible evacuation for the few hundred Dutch in Venezuela. The South-American country is in the midst of a massive crisis and there is hardly any food or medicine available. Angry Venezuelans have been demonstrating against the government for weeks, during which 42 people have been killed and hundreds others injured, RTL Nieuws reports.

Venezuela was once one of the richest countries in Latin America. But their economy collapsed completely due to falling oil prices and economic mismanagement. Demonstrating Venezuelans demand that President Nicolas Maduro and his Socialist government step down. They no longer believe that he can stop the crisis. Police officers and the army got involved in the protests, killing 42 people and injuring hundreds. 

In the mean time the country is facing a shortage of almost everything - medicine, fuel and especially food. People stand in line for hours every day to buy a bite to eat. 

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 200 Dutch are registered as being in Venezuela. But registration is not mandatory, so the number may be higher. The fact that the government is preparing an evacuation, does not mean that it will happen any time soon, according to RTL. Foreign Affairs states that a scenario was created for if the situation in Venezuela escalates further. There is close contact between the diplomatic post in the country's capital Caracas and The Hague so that the situation can be closely monitored.

RTL Nieuws spoke to Dutch man Adriaan van Ginkel, who's been living in a village 45 kilometers from Caracas with his Venezuelan wife for decades. "If you walk around here, nothing seems to be going on. I really live in paradise. But if you look closer, you'll see that the village of Paracotos also faces crisis." he said to the broadcaster. "There is no bread to buy. People around me die of starvation. We've learned to adapt to the situation. We don't have a lot of money and due to the massive inflation, we can hardly buy food. I've lost ten kilos in one year."

Van Ginkel's wife hasn't been able to get medicine for her asthma for two years. And now his mother-in-law can't get medication for her diabetes.

The Dutchman considered leaving a number of times, but that is easier said in done. "The flight tickets here are three times more expensive than in the rest of the world. The money is not worth anything, so buying a flight ticket is almost impossible. I don't have any family left in the Netherlands, so I don't know how I'll build up a life there." The other side of the story is that he's afraid to return to the Netherlands. "I now know what it's like to be really hungry. I've changed. I've grown a lot harder and I'm scared that I can't fit in in the Netherlands any more. My mentality has changed and seems to be nothing like that of the Dutch. In Venezuela I've learned to survive"

Van Ginkel is not holding out hope for an evacuation. "I am furious at the Dutch government. We've been ignored here for years. I sent a letter to the embassy to get clarity on what the evacuation entails. The response I received shows that nothing will happen. Wait calmly, until the situation deteriorates further."