Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Should US People Learn from Venezuela on Refugees?

Venezuela's policies and economics are under stress. It has everything to do with oil prices. And government spending. Oh, and also refugees . . . .

Area of 2015 Colombia-Venezuela migrant crisis
(Source: Wikipedia)
An editorial in The New York Times -- "Venezuela’s Downward Spiral" -- caught my eye yesterday. The piece was tsk-tsking "years of catastrophically bad rule" in that country.

As I read it, I thought to myself, "Yes but . . . . "  Wasn't there something about the issue of large numbers of migrants from Colombia to Venezuela? I seemed to have an impression that "the rest of the story" involved Venezuela embracing huge numbers of people in need.

I went back and found the story I remembered: Venezuela's welcome to migrants became news in the US last year, when Venezuela began some deportations - between several hundred and a few thousand people. The article I read mentioned 604,000 migrants from Colombia living in Venezuela. That seemed like a lot. And I think that fact lodged in my mind because the recent progress on the peace process in Colombia has reminded me of the decades of conflict there.

I think it's significant that the same social benefits provided to Venezuelans under Chavez' "Bolivarian Revolution" are reported to have been extended to the migrants from Colombia.

The magnitude of Venezuela's generosity is certainly significant. I plan to take some time to learn about this in more detail, but one source indicates the total migration from Colombia to Venezuela in the past 40 years is 5.6 million people.  In a country of 31 million, that's huge. More information on Venezuela's role as a net receiver of migrants can be found on the website of the International Organization for Migration.

If US people -- who live in one of the richest countries in the world, one that has a very, very, very problematic attitude to migration in its own region --  want to talk about Venezuela, they should at least bother to learn about and consider the broader context.

They might actually find cause to rethink their own behavior.

Related posts

Perhaps, like me, you will read a sentence like, "In 2001, many people came to her neighbourhood looking for a new home, fleeing from the Naya River where the paramilitaries had massacred and displaced the Afro-Colombian communities," and wonder what it refers to.

(See COLOMBIA: Where did the violence come from?)

Sergey Ponomarev won first prize in the 2016 World Press Photo awards: General News for this November 16, 2015 photo: "Refugees arrive by boat near the village of Skala on Lesbos, Greece."
(See Image to Action: Sergey Ponomarev on the Refugee Crisis)

It will take me multiple posts to spell out everything that I feel needs to be said about the Ayotzinapa 43.  People in the US need to work to change their own attitude about Mexico, and about the culpability or all of us here in the US in the wrongs that are being done down there. The Ayotzinapa 43 were persecuted for saying "the future can be different." It's time for us to take up their cry.

(See Ayotzinapa43: US People Need an Attitude Adjustment )

Sun Raid is a searing reminder that people in the US have always been happy to welcome immigrants to help make their businesses profitable and make sure they had cheap stuff and cheap labor . . . . but how dare they expect to be treated like people!

(See WELCOME MAT USA: Come in! Come in! (Get out! Get out!))