Venezuela: Nine million | Opinion

Venezuelan migrants on a highway in Cúcuta, Colombia, on February 2.
Venezuelan migrants on a highway in Cúcuta, Colombia, on February 2.SCHNEYDER MENDOZA (AFP)

Eight million nine hundred thousand Venezuelan emigrants will have dispersed to 17 countries in the region by the end of 2022. These are the figures and dates that, in a recent report, Eduardo Stein, the special representative of the International Organization for Migration (IOM ) from the ONU.

Since 1951, the body has coordinated intergovernmental actions on behalf of people who emigrate or are forcibly displaced from their territories and are received in another country as refugees. Currently, it groups more than 170 nations and maintains offices in 100 world capitals. IOM provides assistance and advice to both governments and individuals. Mr. Stein must know what he’s talking about.

Just two years ago there were close to six million Venezuelans forced to leave their homeland due to the inhumane living conditions afforded by 21st century socialism and in no way mitigated by the US sanctions that have been weighing on oil exports for several years. from the country.

Today there is nothing to indicate that the growth rate of the migratory flow may decrease in the coming months. On the contrary, as Maduro’s tyrannical regime consolidates, the incentives to leave the country grow, especially among the youngest.

The figures, permanently updated by international organizations, highlight the youth of the Central American and Caribbean migratory mass, the Venezuelan population increasingly notable.

The rapidity with which the country has emptied itself, the opacity of the official figures and the disparity of the “independent” numbers are saddening. Anxiety suffocates those who dream of seeing, in the short or medium term, a way out of the Venezuelan humanitarian tragedy

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The political crisis, of a nature and proportions that clearly exceed the capacities of the opposition leadership, works incessantly as a trigger for the migratory wave.

The electoral pantomime with which Maduro has managed to tame opposition parties, perhaps for a long time, now exposes Juan Guaidó as a mere gesticulator of a clumsy and unproductive policy and has put the poor – more than 90% of the population, according to well-credited studies— at the mercy of one of the most protean dictatorships of the 21st century in Latin America. Every day there will be more who opt for the uncertainty that expatriation implies.

The Venezuelan migratory crisis has been compared countless times with the most serious that has been reported on the planet. Its political consequences for neighboring countries are no longer NGO demographic projections or right-wing scaremongering speculations. Now they fuel as a crucial issue the polarization of various countries in the current electoral season of the continent.

A right-wing Chilean presidential candidate offers to erect a wall with a crown of electrified wire in the north of his country. The mayor of Bogotá, a self-proclaimed central-liberal, has been forced several times to reverse clearly xenophobic ordinances and renounce inhumane chauvinist expressions. The territorial war that the warlords, “dissidents” of the former FARC, are waging in southwestern Venezuela is pushing thousands of displaced people toward Colombia.

I grew up, in the fifties of the last century, in a country of one million square kilometers with just eight million inhabitants. It was the fourth largest producer of crude oil in the world. A jingoistic joke claimed that the only poor people who left the country did so to go to the United States to play Major League Baseball.

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Today, hundreds of compatriots have already died when they were shipwrecked trying to reach illegally, for example, the coasts of Curaçao or Trinidad. They no longer only flee en masse to Colombia, the Andean region or Brazil. Now they are joining the legion of Central Americans, Haitians, Dominicans and Cubans who, without anything being a deterrent, are struggling to reach the United States.

And they will not stop facing the dangers of the Darien plug or the Arizona desert until Venezuela is truly free from the terrible hunger and misery to which the mafia tyranny of Nicolás Maduro has reduced it.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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