No walls here: Venezuela’s neighbors keep their doors open amid exodus

No walls here: Venezuela’s neighbors keep their doors open amid exodus

By Luke Vargas   
Published
Families fleeing Venezuela were housed within a UNICEF rest tent in Rumichaca, Ecuador near the border with Colombia. on Oct. 31, 2018. (Courtesy: UNICEF)

A new report finds Venezuela's neighbors aren’t closing their doors or erecting border walls to stop a mass exodus from the country.

UNITED NATIONS — A worsening political and economic crisis in Venezuela has pushed more than 3 million people to flee the country, but a new report finds the country’s neighbors aren’t closing their doors or erecting border walls to stop the exodus.

“We found that most countries have been both generous and pragmatic in their responses.”

Jessica Bolter is a research associate at the Migration Policy Institute.

“They have recognized that regularizing Venezuelan migrants  giving them some sort of legal permit, work authorization, identification  is the best way to allow these migrants to contribute, the host countries and communities to benefit and to allow the government to know who’s in their territory.”

Colombia, which hosts more than 1.1 million Venezuelans, offers a prime example of that generosity. President Iván Duque has pledged to continue welcoming Venezuelans with “open arms,” and his country is one of several countries to create special visa categories allowing Venezuelans to remain there legally.

The population of Venezuelans in top receiving countries as of late 2018. Courtesy: Migration Policy Institute
The population of Venezuelans in top receiving countries as of late 2018. Courtesy: Migration Policy Institute

Others view the arrival of skilled Venezuelans a welcome change in migration flows in countries long used to their citizens leaving for opportunities elsewhere.

“Argentina has actually been trying to match skilled workers, professionals with areas in the country that are in need of those professionals. Peru has also expressed interest in doing a similar program.”

But there’s a fear it only takes one country closing its doors to Venezuelans to cause a bottleneck and push others to do the same, making recent developments in Ecuador particularly concerning.

“Ecuador just this past week implemented a new requirement at its border requiring Venezuelans to present a certification of a clean criminal record. These certifications are extremely difficult to get in Venezuela and few if any migrants are traveling with them.”

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