And The Beat Goes On...
It seems like every week or two another story resurfaces about the ongoing Venezuela migrant crisis. This week is no different. Refugees International had a piece about a place we’ve told you about before, the Darien Gap, gateway to migrant routes to the north. It is considered one of the most dangerous migratory passages in the world and yet many continue to cross Colombia into Panama via this route. Of the 13,425 people who crossed Darien Gap in the first quarter this year 31% were Venezuelans.
Most of the Colombians interviewed by Refugees International said Venezuelans seem to be the poorest of the migrants. This is something we’ve touched on before. Early Venezuela migrants were mostly wealthy and left via the airport. Then came the middle class, many who left in their cars. Now it’s the poor who are fleeing Chavismo and many of them are traveling on foot.
Although they can obtain regular status in Colombia, most Venezuelans choose to head north as there are few job opportunities in Colombia (partly due to the economy and partly due to the almost two million Venezuelans that have already entered) and xenophobia is on the rise. Locals interviewed by Refugees International said Venezuelans were criminals even though data says Venezuelans commit fewer crimes than the local population.
The Venezuelan arrivals are the most visible of the migrants and are also the most under served by assistance. (We’ve told you previously that for some unexplained reason spending on Syrian migrants outpaced that spent on Venezuelan migrants 10 to 1, for context). There are several international humanitarian organizations in the Darien Gap area, the Red Cross, and several UN (United Nations) agencies, but they’re overwhelmed, not just by Venezuelans but migrants from across the Caribbean and various African nations, even Europe and the Middle East.
The Darien Gap is also a favorite route for human smuggling and drug trafficking making it even more dangerous for migrants. It’s common for people who have crossed “The Gap” to report they saw bodies decomposing in the jungle.
In the search for a safer route many cite the Cartagena Declaration of 1984 regarding the acceptance of refugees in Latin America, but the agreement is non-binding. Many countries accepted Venezuelans freely in the early stages of the growing exodus from 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism, but after a few million fled, and especially now with the count well over 6 million, most countries require a visa for Venezuelans, with regulations most Venezuelans can’t meet. Finding an alternate route to the Darien Gap may help migrants from other countries but it’s doubtful it will help Venezuelans. And the beat goes on…
We also had the IOM telling us that IOM and SENAFRONT with the support from the Human Mobility Group of the UN have formed USFROH in Panama to help migrants, mostly Venezuelans, crossing the dangerous Darien Gap. They provide preventative patrols, search and rescue, first aid, and humanitarian services. In one month in the Bajo Chiquito area of Darien Gap USFROH assisted 2,300 migrants. As we said, the migration from 21st Century Bolivarian Socialism just goes on…and on …and on.
Oh, and speaking of migrants, Caracas Chronicles reports that at least six Venezuelan migrants sewed their mouths in protest in Mexico demanding they be allowed to cross the US southern border. There were also thousands left stranded after paying bus fare and their buses were sent back to Monterrey.
They also had a story about authorities in Chile capturing 7 members of the Chilean chapter of criminal gang El Tren de Aragua (a Venezuelan gang) on suspicion of migrant trafficking, extortion, kidnapping, homicide, and drug trafficking. It appears the criminals are migrating from Venezuela as well.
Then we have another item we’ve touched on before. The level of women’s participation in Venezuelan politics is discouraging, on both sides, the opposition and Chavismo.We already know the Chavistas only pay lip service to “feminism” and that no women are involved in policy making decisions. The opposition is no better with women leading only 2 of 15 permanent commissions.
The pervading culture of machismo is evident (a concept I always found surprising as in Venezuela most women work and many men don’t). Maybe that contributes to the fact that a recent poll showed 83% of Venezuelans don’t trust political parties. Venezuela would be well served to implement a women’s empowerment plan as they are way behind other Latin American countries that have done so including Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Mexico, Guatemala, and El Salvador.
Then we have Washington Times with a follow-up to US Senator, Marco Rubios’,letter to The US Attorney General and the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security asking them to request a red notice from Interpol for the arrest and extradition of Nicolas Maduro. The Washington Times editorial board reminds us that a similar situation involving another head of state, Panama’s, Manuel Noriega, resulted in a 40 year prison sentence so Senator Rubio’s request is not without precedent.
And we have the US Senate Committee On Foreign Relations sending a letter to Joe Biden asking him to change course on his Venezuela policy and calling it a “diplomatic fiasco”. His decision to reward the Maduro regime for simply returning to talks with the opposition in Mexico, that they unilaterally abandoned, ignores reality. “Without a meaningful and urgent course correction your administration is jeopardizing American lives,weakening the democratic forces in Venezuela, strengthening the Maduro regime, exacerbating twin regional security and humanitarian crises, and deepening the negative influence of Russia, China, Iran, and transnational criminal organizations.” It kinda’ sounds like (and we would agree) that Biden’s Venezuela policy is wrong on almost every front.
And as long as we’re talking Biden’s Venezuela policy, we have Reuters reporting that the US Treasury Department has removed former Venezuela National Treasurer and nephew of First Lady, Cilia Flores, from the sanctions list. (Yet another appeasement to the Maduro regime)
Then we have Nasdaq reporting Venezuela consumer price growth in May was 6.5% putting 12 month inflation at 167%. The Venezuela Observatory of Finance said the rising prices are due to the falling value of the bolivar (we told you it wouldn’t last) and the higher cost of imported raw materials.
And we have La Prensa Latina reminding us that even though Venezuela VP, Delcy Rodriguez, said there has been an 86% increase in retail start-ups, 95% of Venezuelans still live below the poverty line.
Then we have BELTA telling us that The National Center for Marketing and Price Study, in Minsk, Belarus held a meeting with 60 representatives of Venezuela businesses and special attention was paid to the organization of the Belarusian – Venezuelan Business Forum, which is set to meet in Minsk in late 2022. The purpose is to guide Venezuela businesses in their entry into Belarusian markets. It looks like Maduro wants to replace his former primary trading partners of the US, Canada, and the EU with Iran, Belarus, and Azerbaijan? Oh, and don’t forget about the Russians.
And we have Translating Cuba reporting that leaders of the central Banks of Cuba and Venezuela met in St. Petersburg, Russia to advocate accelerating procedures for using Russian MIR bank cards in their countries. The president of the Central Bank of Venezuela says they can delay no longer or the “Western monopoly” will win and will be used as a “weapon”.
Then we have Caracas Chronicles with a perfect description of Maduro’s recent travels in their sub-heading “Maduro’s Middle-Eastern tour brings shady promises and useless deals”. We won’t get into a lot of it as we’ve already told you about his “historic, strategic agreements” but we do have this from Qatar… Maduro announced that Doha – Caracas flights will begin in October. He also talked about plans and investment in areas like gas, oil, tourism, food production,and commerce…while parroting his new (?) slogan, “A diversified economic model, non- oil dependent”. He’s been saying the same thing, more or less, every year since he took power.
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