New Measures to Reduce Venezuelan Influx in The Region

Ecuador demands valid visas from Venezuelans while Chile issues new requirements to restrict migration.

On Monday, 26th August, Venezuelan migrants blocked the passage between Ecuador and Colombia, stranded due to the humanitarian visa requirement. (EFE)

Spanish – The Chavista dictatorship has created a crisis, causing thousands of Venezuelans to flee the country, and creating a complicated situation. The countries in the region have issued new measures such as visa requirement to reduce the influx of migrants.

From 26th August, Ecuador started demanding humanitarian visas from Venezuelans wishing to enter the country. The process can be initiated online except for the requirement of an in-person interview. However, it further complicates the process for those who want to leave Venezuela.

Ecuador is not the only country that has decided to take measures to “straighten up” and “regularize” the situation of Venezuelan migrants. Recently, Chile also issued new requirements for those who want to reside in this country. Although the Sebastian Piñera administration grants visas to Venezuelan with direct family members in Chile, it has forbidden those in Peru with a Temporary Stay Permit to apply for a visa of democratic responsibility. In other words, a Venezuelan migrant who hasn’t been able to do well in Peru no longer has the option of migrating to Chile.

Countries are issuing new regulations and visa requirements. Meanwhile, the situation worsens every day, especially in the border areas as thousands of Venezuelans are desperately looking for a solution.

The borders between the migrant-receiving countries are collapsing. The department of Nariño, situated at the border between Colombia and Ecuador, recently registered an increased number of migrants following Ecuador’s implementation of new visa requirements for Venezuelans.

Ricardo Romero, mayor of Ipiales (Colombia), told AFP, “We ask the government not to leave us alone” because “the scale of the crisis demands instant attention. The situation may become unmanageable from tonight.”

According to Romero, in recent weeks, Ipiales went from receiving 1,800 daily to 7,000 on average. As a result, he declared a state of public calamity to facilitate the extraordinary management of resources.

Till Sunday, 25th August, Venezuelans could enter Ecuador by presenting their identification card only. However, from Tuesday, they would need a visa which requires documents that are difficult to obtain in Venezuela given the profound political and economic crisis.

There is a crisis at the border between Ecuador and Peru too. Thousands of Venezuelans arrived at the Binational Border Assistance Center (Cebaf) in the town of Aguas Verdes, in Peru; but they have not yet been able to regularize their status.

They are waiting at the border without visas. According to local media, at least 500 people are stuck at this site. Although Nestor Popolizio, Peruvian Foreign Affairs minister, has asserted that the country will permit entry for persons in vulnerable conditions, the media reports that Peru has stopped children, as well as older adults and pregnant women, citing lack of documentation. Meanwhile, staff from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) have been providing support and guidance to migrants.

Host countries in crisis

The countries receiving the Venezuelan migration crisis are practically desperate due to the scarcity of resources and the lack of financial aid from the international community. So far, only 30% of all the money needed to meet the needs of the more than four million Venezuelans who have fled the dictatorship led by Nicolas Maduro has been raised.

The Venezuelan migration crisis is severe, and the receiving countries have come to a standstill. The Colombian government says that they have received only 30% of the budget agreed with the United Nations to face the Venezuelan crisis in 2019: Colombia has received only 70 USD per migrants. There are more than 1.4 million Venezuelans in Colombia who have escaped the Chavista dictatorship, and the number will continue to rise.

In just seven months since November 2018, the number of Venezuelan refugees and migrants increased by one million, according to data from different host nations and NGOs working in close collaboration with the United Nations. The total number of migrants is about 4.2 million.

An “avalanche” of Venezuelans

On 14th August, UNHCR warned that if the situation in Venezuela does not change, the flow of Venezuelan migrants “will continue” without anything stopping it. The number of expatriates could exceed six million.

Filippo Grandi, the Commissioner of UNHCR, warned about the gravity of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela that has forced thousands of citizens to leave their country with each passing day. “This flow will continue if there is no political solution in Venezuela that allows these people to return to their country,” Grandi said. “I am not very optimistic,” he added regarding the future of the migratory crisis.

The head of the UNHCR stated that the flow of Venezuelan migrants in the region is “the most substantial” in the world in decades and estimated the number of Venezuelan citizens who emigrated in recent years at more than four million.

In Colombia alone, the cost of assisting migrants is estimated at 0.3 % of gross domestic product (GDP), putting pressure on the infrastructure of public services, health systems, and education.

Tomas Paez, the coordinator of the Venezuelan Diaspora Observatory, told PanAm Post that a global strategy is needed to “coordinate efforts to prevent decisions in one country from influencing the others.”

It is going to be necessary to create a joint strategy between countries, just as it is going to be necessary to continue exerting pressure so that things change in Venezuela, which is the only way to avoid the migratory phenomenon.

According to Paez, the only effective way to stop the Venezuelan immigration crisis is for socialism to cease and for humanitarian conditions to change.

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