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Mass Migration Is Here to Stay — We Must Deal with It Humanely

By: Carlos Sabino - @Sabino2324 - Aug 9, 2016, 11:39 am

Venezuelans crossing the border to Colombia were met with mixed reaction by residents. (MigraciónCol)

EspañolOf the 150,000 Venezuelans who recently crossed the border to Colombia, there are at least 25,000 citizens hoping to stay and start life over anew.

Their decision is understandable: the shortage of goods in Venezuela, which led them to cross the border in the first place, is not a sustainable way to live.

Additionally, Venezuela’s inflation has reached exorbitant figures, its entire production apparatus now in ruins.

Businesses on the Colombian border received this flurry of new buyers with open arms. But many other Colombians have already begun to worry. It’s a burden to introduce tens of thousands of new people into an already functioning society. And if Colombia officially opens its doors to Venezuelans, the number will increase to hundreds of thousands — if not millions.

Cuba’s socialist dictatorship is causing similar situations in other parts of Latin America. The Castro brothers’ reforms on the island have been unable to improve the poor quality of life on the island.

The Venezuelan government can no longer financially support Cuba’s unviable socialist model, and so islanders fear their lives will become even more miserable. Can anyone blame them for wanting to leave?

Currently, thousands of Cubans are stranded in Costa Rica and in Panama, and many governments are afraid to let them continue their journey to the United States.

The US has always had issues with immigration: its strict laws have left million of immigrants undocumented, many of whom have worked and lived in the country for many years. In part, this is to protect against terrorists and drug traffickers.

This makes the topic complicated. People have the right to leave their country in search of new horizons, but all the nations of the world also have the right to defend themselves by choosing who enters and doesn’t.

There is no easy solution to this thorny problem. Latin America’s governments have showed tolerance — and even support — to the dictatorships of Chávez or Castro, but that has in turn fueled Venezuelans’ and Cubans’ wishes to flee the terrible living conditions produced by them. Supporting dictatorial regimes in the region, and then complaining that people want to escape them, is an incongruity, to say the least.

Carlos Sabino Carlos Sabino

Sociologist, writer, and university professor, Sabino is director of the masters and doctoral programs in history at the University of Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala. Follow him @Sabino2324