President Gustavo Petro called to “unblock Venezuela economically” to curb mass migration from Colombia’s neighbor to the east.
Petro made the comment in a speech on Thursday, days after the United Nations human rights agency UNHCHR reported a record number of migrants traveling from Colombia to Panama.
According to the UNHCHR, more than 330,000 people traveled through the Darien Gap, the jungle that separates Colombia and Panama, so far this year.
Last year, a total of 248,000 migrants undertook the journey through the border jungle.
Panamanian authorities have decried the failure of cooperation of Colombian authorities to curb the mass migration.
According to Petro, “we must unblock Venezuela economically” in order to “stop the humanitarian disaster” on the border between Colombia and Panama.
If we really want to stop the humanitarian disaster of the exodus through the Darien, we must unblock Venezuela economically.
President Gustavo Petro
The US government gradually increased the number of sanctions imposed on Venezuela since 2006.
These sanctions coincided with a major economic crisis caused by a drop in commodity prices in 2014.
The subsequent humanitarian crisis and an escalating political crisis spurred more than 7 million people to leave Venezuela in the past decade, according to the UN’s refugee agency.
Escalating violence in Haiti and ongoing poverty in Africa and South America also contributed to the migrant crisis.