Episodes of xenophobia against Venezuelan migrants are increasingly frequent and violent in Latin America. It is time for all governments to act more humanely and less politically.
Venezuelans experience xenophobia every day in almost all the countries they reach. Photo: LatinAmerican Post
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
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A few days ago there was one of the most violent acts of xenophobia recently recorded in Latin America. A group of Chileans, frustrated for many reasons and the ineffectiveness of the Government, decided to attack a camp of Venezuelan migrants. The news was the burning of tents, but what struck me the most was the burning of baby cars. This shows not only the boredom for people who "come to take work and opportunities away from the locals" or who "damage the peaceful coexistence of times gone by." No, now it is a hatred even with the most vulnerable.
La quema de las carpas y pertenencias de migrantes venezolanos tras una protesta en contra de la inmigración ilegal en Iquique #Chile es un hecho repudiable ¿Por qué las autoridades locales permitieron estas agresiones? La inmigración es una realidad que no se acaba con violencia pic.twitter.com/dgd5pZkDfa— Patricia Janiot (@patriciajaniot) September 27, 2021
Venezuelans experience xenophobia on a daily basis in almost all the countries they reach. From rejection and violence to the lack of opportunities, discrimination, and the anti-immigrant and stigmatizing discourse of politicians. And this has two main responsibilities: the Venezuelan regime and the ineffectiveness of the other Latin American governments.
Obviously, the crisis began with the terrible Chavista administration and its failed economic model full of corruption. But, other responsible are the Latin American governments.
Mainly, because they close the borders and prevent the passage of refugees. Non-migrants. Refugees. But if, on the contrary, they open them, they leave thousands and thousands of families to their fate, who in precarious conditions risk their lives to find a better future.
Exposed to the misery and poverty of the cords of misery. Also exposing the stigmatization of the communities and the rejection and xenophobia of the locals.
We know that Latin America is a region with levels of extreme poverty and that social assistance is not enough for those who already live in each country. But this cannot be the excuse to ignore the historical moment which we face as societies and as "brother" peoples, a word with which we both fill our mouths in repeating. These are difficult moments, but the humanity of the Latino cannot be below. Venezuelan refugees are also our responsibility because no matter how much we don't want to, they will continue to arrive and with the instability so common in our countries, tomorrow we may be emigrating.
Countries must first open their borders. No migrant is illegal within our countries. Because this "solution" is the beginning of any xenophobic speech. If we understand that the refugees fleeing a dictatorship and the hunger of Chavismo are here and that we are not going to prevent them from arriving, we can understand that the solution is not as simple as closing a border or starting to request visas.
Second, governments must invest in temporary shelters, incidentally, for migrants who have started their journey on foot. Give them dignity and support, not rejection and indifference. The routes of migrants are already known and we should understand that changing countries is not a crime.
Once they arrive in their destination country, ensure their inclusion. Receive them with guarantees and possibly with a process of normalization of their immigration status. This will also allow the identification and tracking of refugees who have arrived. Obviously, their own resources will not be enough, but all countries will have to create an international fund to help migrants. If countries continue to think that closing borders are the alternative, let them help finance the reception of refugees in other countries. That they can be beneficiaries of social aid when they decide to stay in our territory. If it is difficult for anyone in your country to get ahead, for someone new and alone, much more.
We could also adopt the measures of the European Union, and begin to distribute the refugees in several countries. Divide the burden that social spending can represent and everyone as a region, understand that a human being is also a citizen of the world.
Finally, the integration programs. All these refugees, even though they speak the same language and have cultural similarities, must go through integration programs. Learn to use the state apparatus of their new country, to understand the bureaucracy that not even the locals understand and that there is psychological support for the traumas they have had to go through.