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(crédito: Danilo GOMEZ/AFP)

The crisis in Colombia is caused by an unprecedented influx of Venezuelans to the United States

Published on 10/12/2022 09:40

(Credit: Danilo GOMEZ/AFP)

Amid a record flow of Venezuelans heading to the United States, at least 10,000 people are waiting at a Colombian port to cross the border into Panama, according to local media. Hundreds of thousands of migrants, most of them from Venezuela, cross the dangerous Darien jungle to reach the United States, causing crisis in the cities they pass through.

Wilfrido Menco, a human rights activist from the Colombian municipality of Necogli, told the newspaper. El Tiempo Migrants wait for boats to take them to the Panamanian border to continue their journey. “Now, the tickets needed to cross the sea to the border town of Akandi are sold out,” he said.

The number of migrants arriving in Panama through the Darien Strait, a densely forested strait that straddles the road connecting the Colombian border with Panama, has reached an all-time high in recent days, with more than 160,000 people risking the crossing. From armed groups and wild animals. Almost three-quarters of them are Venezuelans.

Menko reported an increase in the number of foreigners in Nekogli, a village of 45,000. “Approximately 2,500 migrants arrive daily, most of them from Venezuela. We saw about 15 buses arriving every 4 hours to take them to the port,” he added. Besides Venezuelans, Haitians, Cubans, Africans and Asians also cross the Darien on foot, but in smaller numbers.

Fears

The influx of Venezuelans into Colombia raises fears of a collapse in the transportation system. More than 1,000 migrants arrived daily at Medellin’s northern transit terminal in the Department of Antioquia, before fewer than 200 arrived, according to Colombian officials.

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The situation also worries Panamanian officials, whose influx of migrants has led to the downfall of President Erica Moines, who had called for international support to deal with the influx. He was sacked and replaced by Janina Devani Mencomo, which was considered a surprise by the local press.

The increase in immigration from South America to the United States comes amid several economic and social changes in the region, including a worsening economy, changes in visa policies in neighboring countries such as Costa Rica and Mexico, as well as rumors that the U.S. government may not deport immigrants to their home countries.

In September, the U.S. government reported that the number of immigrants detained at the Southwest border had surpassed a record 2 million. The movement is observed globally, where one in 78 people are considered displaced, and according to the UN, Venezuelans are the second largest group – behind Syrians.

According to official data obtained by The New York Times, more than 150,000 Venezuelans arrived at the US-Mexico border this year. From 2015 to 2018, the number was less than 100,000.

Profile change

In August, Customs and Border Protection observed a change in the national profile of those trying to enter the United States. The number of people from Cuba, Nicaragua, and Venezuela equaled those from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras—people who historically migrated the most north. The number of illegal immigrants from the latter countries decreased by 43% compared to August 2021, while the number of Cubans, Nicaraguans and Venezuelans increased by 175%.

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Because Washington does not have diplomatic relations with these three countries, authorities cannot deport migrants as they do elsewhere.

In addition, experts consulted by Estadão in August said new visa requirements for Venezuelans in countries such as Mexico, Costa Rica and Belize – part of a policy of US pressure to limit the flow of migrants – led migrants to Darien. Now flying to the US border, they cross on foot, as they used to.

Asylum

The plight of the Venezuelan people in particular has been a sticking point for Biden as the United States has severed diplomatic ties with the government of President Nicolás Maduro. In most cases, U.S. agents allow Venezuelan nationals to turn themselves in to authorities, where they can begin the asylum application process. (with international agencies)

Information in the newspaper. State of Sao Paulo.