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Venezuela’s Migration Crisis: 28 Thousand Cross the Darien Gap in the First Half of 2022


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VENEZUELA faces a complex migration crisis. Since 2014 at least 7 million Venezuelans have migrated from the country in search of a better future, mainly to countries in the region. In the case of the United States, that migration was done through commercial flights. That has changed. Now Venezuelans are crossing through illegal crossings to the United States.

Currently, Venezuelans represent the largest number of people crossing the dangerous Darien Gap. Given the situation, David Smolansky, commissioner of the OAS General Secretariat for the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis, explained that according to data from his office compiled by the Panamanian Border Service, for every Cuban crossing the gap, there are at least 12 Venezuelans.

According to data provided by Smolansky, in the first semester of 2019, only 38 Venezuelans had crossed the Darien Gap, in 2020, 34; in 2021, 581, and now in 2022, the number increased to 28,000 migrants. “For the first half of this year, 28,079 Venezuelans have crossed the Darien Gap, equivalent to 60% of the total number of people crossing. It is the most abundant population crossing the Darien, surpassing those who normally crossed it, which were Colombians, Haitians, and Cubans,” the OAS commissioner said.

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Amid a slight economic growth, the regime of Nicolás Maduro claims that there are hundreds of migrants returning to their country, but Smolansky details that this is false and that the number of Venezuelans migrating has been increasing.

“Unfortunately, today, the conditions are still not in place for Venezuelans to return, but also for them to stop leaving the country. Through the borders of Colombia, Brazil, and the Caribbean, it is estimated that 1,700 people are leaving every day,” he highlighted.

Addressing the migratory crisis

¿Cómo afecta a Estados Unidos la crisis migratoria de Venezuela?

A migrant washes a pair of pants with the U.S. flag in the Chucunaque River on May 22, 2019, near a temporary humanitarian aid station in the community of Peñita, in Darien, Panama.(EFE)

For Smolansky, the region’s countries must adapt public policies in favor of migrants. In his opinion, it is necessary to promote an orderly migration for the safety of migrants and for the welfare of the countries that receive them.

“A major challenge is the efforts to be made against discrimination and xenophobia. When we talk about these policies, I feel it is left in the hands of the president of a country, the chancellor, or multilateral organizations. But the responsibility against discrimination and xenophobia depends on everyone, and I believe that local authorities have to do an important job”, Smolansky said.

He added that “The region has to speed up the regularization process. Of the 6.2 million Venezuelan migrants and refugees, about 2.8 million now have their documentation in regular status. This means that approximately 3.4 million are still without documentation. In an irregular situation, some Venezuelans are in the informal economy, and there are barriers to access education and health, which is a human right”.
He assured that the solution to the crisis is political because he believes that people will continue to emigrate as long as Nicolás Maduro is in power. He also stated that the most important lesson from this crisis for the American hemisphere is that regimes and the lack of freedoms can lead to more complex situations than in countries at war.

“This is a human landslide that has an obvious cause, which is an illegitimate regime, which is responsible for the complex humanitarian emergency. The regime has as a state policy the violation of human rights, it is responsible for the lack of electricity and water, it is responsible for the economic collapse, and it also made a pact with the underworld to make Venezuela one of the most violent countries in the world”, he stated.

Williams Perdomo es periodista y escritor, especializado en las fuentes Política y Cultura.