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The victims of the deportations of Venezuelan migrants

A new tragedy of Venezuelan rafters generates a campaign of national mourning and a rejection of the deportations in the sea of Trinidadian authorities .

Venezuelan migrants walking along the border with Colombia

Migrants have had to overcome hunger, trafficking networks, violence by armed groups, and even cross the Andean mountain range. / Photo: Reuters

LatinAmerican Post | Miguel Denis

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Leer en español: Las víctimas de las deportaciones de migrantes venezolanos

Since 2015, millions of Venezuelans began an emigration process in search of better living and working conditions. The migration began through regular routes (by plane or land transport), but as the precariousness of the country progressed, migration began to rise. According to UNHCR data, at the end of 2015 there were 695,000 migrants, while by 2019, there were already more than 4 million. Venezuelan migrants have frequently appeared in the Latin American media, due to the groups of walkers that went from the Colombian-Venezuelan border to different destinations, even reaching Peru.

Migrants have had to overcome hunger, trafficking networks, violence by armed groups, and even cross the Andean mountains (as 200 years ago the army of llaneros from the independence struggle, now a very different context) as the protagonists of a humanitarian drama that already has several years. For the year 2019, the UN announced that Venezuelans headed the list of migrant deaths, with a total of 514 deaths, revealing an increase of 33% compared to the previous year, these figures express the conditions of extreme vulnerability with which many people decide to seek a better future, moving to neighboring countries. The Páramo of Berlin in Colombia is one of the places that has seen the tragedy of the Venezuelan walkers pass, in February 2020 a family saw their two-month-old baby die in their arms while trying to reach a center of health.

But the land route is not the only way of migration; maritime routes have emerged on the Venezuelan coasts to nearby islands and countries in the Caribbean. On the eastern coasts, mainly from the region of the Paria peninsula in Sucre State, a migratory circuit has been generated towards Trinidad and Tobago, at the same time as illegal trade and human trafficking networks have grown.

Read also: Two elections that express the erosion of polarization in Venezuela

The drama of the rafters

In this region, the humanitarian drama has the face of rafters who leave the shores of Paria to try to reach Trinidad without being noticed by the immigration authorities. During 2020, there have been several cases in which Trinidadian authorities prevent the arrival of Venezuelans, forcing the return of the boats, without conditions that guarantee their life and safety. The case of a boat with 27 Venezuelans, including 16 children - without their parents - who were drifting without gasoline or food for 48 hours, after they were deported when they tried to reach the island, became publicly known. According to a BBC report in this regard, the deportation of Venezuelans from Trinidad began in 2018.

On December 12, 2020, the Venezuelan coast guard found the bodies of 19 people (including children) floating 6.3 NM off the coast of Paria. It is a boat that after being returned by the Trinidadian authorities, ends in a fatal tragedy, days later the figure rose to over 20 deceased people. In a report in the newspaper El País, it is indicated that the International Organization for Migration keeps a record of a hundred Venezuelans who have disappeared in the Caribbean as a result of migration. They also highlight the role of human trafficking networks that work with the complicity of members of the Venezuelan authorities and neighboring countries, who have taken advantage of the desperation of people who decide to try to find a future crossing the tide. These figures are contrasted with the migratory crisis in the Mediterranean, where almost 1,000 people have disappeared or died so far in 2020. Migration by sea represents one of the greatest risks of human displacement that occurs illegally or forced by economic and social conditions.

 

The Trinidadian authorities have rejected the accusations of national and international human rights organizations that condemn deportations at sea, they have even considered the Venezuelan migration as an "assault", confirming the continuation of their deportation policy and blaming illegal networks. of human trafficking from the grave situation. On the other hand, human rights defenders have criticized the execution of deportations without guarantees or safe boats, or any consideration for the humanitarian emergency that the South American country is going through, even in times of pandemic.