LatAm nations meet over Venezuela's migrant crisis

Marco Green
September 8, 2018

He said they should grant legal status to Venezuelan migrants while working to integrate them socially and economically.

According to United Nations figures, there are 2.3 million Venezuelans now living overseas (roughly 7.5% of the population), with 1.6 million (5.2%) having left since 2015.

Eleven Latin American countries say that they have agreed to allow Venezuelans leaving their homeland to enter their countries even if their travel documents have expired.

Vice President Delcy Rodriguez said on Monday that unnamed United Nations officials have been portraying "a normal migratory flow as a humanitarian crisis to justify an intervention".

Thirteen regional countries joined in the two-day summit that took place in Quito, Ecuador on September 3 and 4 to address the migrant crisis and coordinate a regional response.

President Nicolas Maduro said in a televised broadcast on Monday that opposition protests and USA financial sanctions had led some Venezuelans to "try their luck" in other countries but many were reconsidering that decision.

Maduro's close associate Diosdado Cabello, president of the Constituent National Assembly, called the offer "disgusting" and "shameful", suggesting that the offer of humanitarian aid is unlikely to be accepted.

Many have reported being asked for bribes up to $1,000 (£780) for a passport which could rise to $5,000 if the applicant had urgent reasons to leave, such as wanting to visit a sick family member overseas.

In fact, the 100,000 figure seems to have been a popular one in Maduro's inner circle for a while; previous year, Maduro himself claimed that 100,000 Colombians had arrived in the country in 2016, and that the number of Colombians migrating to Venezuela outpaced flows in the opposite direction.

In addition to discussing a common regulatory framework, Latin American nations are seeking to show the impact that the massive arrival of migrants has on various countries' finances.

But many do not have valid passports because renewing them can take years.

Venezuelans have long complained about how hard it is to get hold of passports and other official documents such as birth and marriage certificates and ID cards.

Around 100 Venezuelans were waiting in line outside the Venezuelan embassy in Lima on Wednesday to secure "repatriation cards" needed for a free flight home, according to a Reuters witness.

"Migrants are in need of help", Rodriguez of the Venezuelan Observatory said. "They need to be regularised, we know that many are being exploited".

The delegates from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic and Uruguay were scheduled to issue a joint statement on Tuesday. "They are not identifiable, so if they die or they are killed, it is not easy to know who they were".

Colombia, Peru and Ecuador asked on Thursday for global aid to manage the migration surge that is overwhelming public services.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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