The Venezuelan exodus to the Colombia border
More than 1.2 million Venezuelans are now living in neighboring Colombia and that figure could hit 2 million by year’s end amid a brutal power struggle and a deep economic crisis.
Colombia Migration Director Christian Kruger on Thursday released the new figures and said they were likely to climb if Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro continues clinging to power.
“If the usurper, the dictator Maduro, stays in Venezuela — obviously these figures will continue to increase, and not just in our country,” he said.
The United Nations says more than 3.4 million people have left Venezuela in recent years amid hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages.
Colombia — which shares a long, porous border with Venezuela — has seen the largest influx, and is now home to 1,260,594 Venezuelans, the government said. But Peru, Ecuador, Chile and others have also been impacted.
Although Venezuelan migration to Colombia is increasing, during the first three months of this year there was a net outflow. Some 240,309 Venezuelans entered the country from January through March but 241,568 left. Of those, 110,351 went to Ecuador, 73,174 returned to Venezuela, 18,192 went to Peru, 11,760 went to Chile and 7,635 headed to the United States.
Of the Venezuelans in Colombia, 770,975 are here legally and 489,619 are considered “irregular” because they overstayed permits or entered the country on unofficial trails and without documentation, the government said.
The entire region has been struggling to cope with what has evolved as one of the hemisphere’s largest migratory crises.
Maduro, 57, is holding onto power as Washington and more than 50 other nations have said he’s an illegitimate leader who’s in office through electoral fraud. Instead, they recognize Juan Guaidó, the 35-year-old head of congress, as the country’s sole president.
On Tuesday, Guaidó called for a military uprising that fell flat. But the country has been seized by street protests ever since, leaving at least four people dead and more than 100 injured, according to local media.