Inside Latin American migrants' mass exodus
In many cases, the destination is the least of it, since the options in countries of origin do not give time or space to program an itinerary.
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In addition to the difficult humanitarian crisis that all the Americas are going through, now there is a wave of xenophobia that occurs even with the complacency of some governments that have aggressively and inhumanely repressed those who seek better life opportunities.
The director of the Venezuelan Observatory of the Universidad del Rosario in Colombia, Ronal Rodríguez, gave an interview to the German media DW, in which he analyzed the dramatic situation the migrant community of Latin America is going through at this time. Rodríguez pointed out that, for example, in Chile, after a scene that was sold to Venezuelans, in which they were assured protection, on the contrary, they were deported in prison suits and without being allowed to present refugee petitions. For the Colombian, this is a clear violation of international humanitarian law.
The South American country was also the epicenter of a massive and embarrassing march with strong xenophobic implications, in which thousands of people attacked a migrant camp and burned all its inhabitants' belongings. Similar situations have occurred in other cities in Latin America while the authorities send mixed speeches in which they claim to offer aid and shelter, but do not implement real measures to mitigate the harsh conditions of the population that continues adrift.
The one many aspire as their final destination (their promised land), the United States, was expected to be more receptive after the departure of Donald Trump and his wall, and the arrival of Joe Biden to the White House, but shows no signs of seeking policies that favor reception of those who give their lives every day trying to achieve the American dream.
The most recent and tragic case has been presented with the thousands of Haitians who, after overcoming the most cruel demands of a journey, many times fatal, are being deported to Port-au-Prince or attacked with whips by police forces to prevent their entry to the country.
It is estimated that there are about 6 million Venezuelans distributed among Hispanic countries such as Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Argentina and Mexico. For its part, it is estimated that in Brazil, there are about 80,000 Haitians and about 200,000 in Chile.
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), the number of migrants within Latin America grew 66% and 26% outside the region between 2010 and 2019. According to the entity, unemployment, discrimination and the lack of guarantees to live with dignity are the triggers to leave their countries of origin, while most of the migrants have moved to another Latin American country, either in passing, en route to the U.S. as a final destination.
The Colombian town located on the margins of Colombia's Darien Gap and the border with Panama, is currently the scene of an unsustainable humanitarian crisis due to the massive arrival of migrants from, among many other places, Haiti, Cuba, Venezuela, who, on their route to the United States, are kept stranded in the territory waiting to continue safe passage to Panamanian soil, where they plan to continue their route to North America.
To the drama of the thousands who can drop off in boats and those who must wait even months to achieve it, a new phenomenon is now added. Those who, seeing how their compatriots are mercilessly deported back to their countries of origin, face a crossroads between continuing their way north, going to another country in Latin America, or returning to their battered nations.
The reality is, the chances of being successful in the pursuit of the American dream are less and less. The UNDP revealed that according to its data, only one in five people bound for the United States achieve their goal, while the remaining 80% are either detained by the authorities, or are victims of mafias dedicated to human trafficking, or must remain in a "constant" state of transit.
According to organizations such as UNDP and other humanitarian associations, it is necessary for the governments and civil authorities of each Latin American country to work as a team to provide better conditions for migrants and promote policies in their favor that are not hostile.
For now, the scenes of abandonment, intolerance and violence against the different caravans and migrant settlements will continue to be a reality these communities must face. As long as politicians do not seek comprehensive and transnational solutions, with which they can welcome those who are orphans of their homeland in a humane way, the picture may still get a little darker.