A couple of days ago, political scientist Ian Bremmer published a tweet where he pointed out that 5.4 million of Venezuelans have fled their country, representing the second-largest refugee crisis in the world after the Syrian. The tweet gained a lot of notoriety and many people started to ask why this situation was still barely unknown.
The curious aspect about this case is that, indeed, many people around the world don’t know too much about it. So here’s a couple of facts about Venezuela’s refugee crisis.
The number could be higher.
The first one is about the number. While it is an undeniable fact that having almost 6 million people leaving their country is absolutely insane, the truth is that the number could be higher. After all, this 5.4 million is the number of people who legally entered different countries around the world. This way, if we count the number of people who are not documented, the total amount of Venezuelan refugees could be up to 7 or even 8 million.
The country where this situation happens the most is Colombia. This one is the country that most Venezuelans have escaped, considering that both nations share 2219 kilometers of border. This way, thousands of Venezuelans have entered Colombia without registering in its migratory system.
In addition to Colombia, this situation is also taking place in other South American nations including Ecuador, Brazil and Peru. However, the numbers in these nations are not compared to those of Colombia.
Venezuela’s refugee crisis is only counted since Maduro’s era.
Another interesting fact that many fail to take into consideration is that 5.4 million is the number of Venezuelans who escaped since the year 2014, meaning that the number of Venezuelans who escaped since the rise of Hugo Chavez in the late 90s is not counted.
This is a really important fact considering that since Chavez was elected, a large number of Venezuelans decided to escape during the decade he ruled the country. After all, the Venezuelan crisis started since the rise of the former military commander, especially after the year 2002 when he started to impose different economic policies that severely affected the South American nation.
Some studies have pointed out that the number of people who escaped from Venezuela during the 13 years that Chavez ruled the country could be up to 700,000 people.
New Xenophobia in South America.
The most horrific consequence of this massive refugee crisis has been the rise of populist politicians who have decided to exacerbate xenophobia against Venezuelans for political gain. One of the greatest examples is the one of Bogota Major Claudia Lopez, who have blamed Venezuelans for the rise of crimes that the Colombian capital has been suffering since 2020.
Despite her claims, Colombian National Police said that crimes committed by Venezuelans in the capital city represent only two percent of total crimes. However, Major Lopez keeps exacerbating fear and hate against Venezuela every time polls suggest she’s losing popularity.
In addition to Lopez, another similar case is the one of newly-elected Peruvian President Pedro Castillo, who exploited Venezuela’s refugee crisis during the presidential primaries. In fact, once he was elected as the new president, one of his first promises was to deport every single Venezuelan who commit any type of crime.
Things will get worse.
The most terrifying fact about Venezuela’s refugee crisis is that it will get worse. After all, the reasons that forced millions of Venezuelans to escape their country still exist, and nothing suggests it will get solved in the short term.
Because of this, it is likely that more Venezuelans escape to different nations all around the world, and that more populist leaders rise in South American, exacerbating xenophobia to gain more popularity.