Crisis in Venezuela: the crude story of the exiles becomes a book

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They are stories of more than 200 people who had to leave the country drowned by lack of work and poverty. Hard experiences from Colombia and other nations.

A collection of raw and painful stories by more than 200 Venezuelans that give an account of the difficulties experienced by migrants. A new postcard from the humanitarian tragedy what the diaspora has become, and which became a book released this weekend.

The stories were collected in the book “Pies para qué te quiero”, prepared by the Latin American and Caribbean Ecclesial Network of Migration, Displacement, Refuge and Trafficking in Persons (Clamor), with support from the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM) and the Agency for the UN for Refugees (UNHCR).

The testimonies were collected between August and December 2019 in eleven cities in four countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Panama, and also added versions of migrants and refugees in Argentina, Chile, the Dominican Republic and Mexico.

By November 2020, more than 5 million Venezuelans had left their country for different countries in the world. More than 80% of the refugee and migrant population of Venezuela is concentrated in Latin America. Colombia has received about 1.8 million people; Peru is followed with more than 1 million, Chile with 455,494 and Ecuador with 417,199, among others, “the document said.

The book is divided into four “sections”: “the causes of departure”, “transit routes”, “host cities” and “the challenges become evident”.

Each of the chapters is armed by the voices of the migrants who relate the reasons for their departure from the country, the roads they traveled, the places of destination and the difficulties they faced.

“Really, sorry for invading your space. We are invading a space, which was not something because we wanted to. No. Really, it touched us because we had no other option. It is not because we want to, but because we had no other option” said one of the stories, without a name.

During the journey made of stories, the common denominator appears xenophobia, different forms of violence, the high degree of fragility that includes men, women and children, but also demonstrations of piety that allowed many of the migrants from family reunification to overcoming critical moments.

“When we were passing that bridge, the people of Colombia shouted at us: get off, go down the road, leave the sidewalks free for Colombians. Venezuelans, get off. You walk on the road. I mean, and they shouted at us as if we were a plague that he was entering the country, “says one of the interviewees.

The book showed that xenophobia is present throughout the migration process and is due to prejudices that feed on individual acts of violence but that are extended to the entire Venezuelan community or from preconceived ideas related to fears or rivalries.

He also addressed the serious difficulties for migrants due to the pandemic of coronavirus and the state of vulnerability in which many were left due to surviving from street sales or piecework.

The document said that Covid-19 not only cracked the weak economy of many migrants and refugees, but also affected mental health of individuals and families who felt lonely and fearful of getting sick and not receiving medical help due to their irregular immigration status.

The document included 16 recommendations made from the suggestions made by the migrants themselves, which covered issues such as stopping cases of xenophobia and discrimination with campaigns, sensitizing public workers to the diaspora and replicating success stories, among others.

By Oscar Escamilla, ANSA agency

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