Latin America grapples with migrant exodus that looks set to worsen in 2019
“About 3.3 million people have fled Venezuela since 2015 and the United Nations estimates about two million more, from a population of 32 million, could follow in 2019. Every day, about 5,000 Venezuelans leave home, according to the United Nations, in one of the biggest exodus of people in modern South American history. In total about one in every 10 people in Venezuela have fled their country in the past three years, with about one million now living in Colombia, 500,000 in Peru, 222,000 in Ecuador, 130,000 in Argentina and 85,000 in Brazil, as well as tens of thousands living in several Caribbean islands. The 35 countries in Europe collectively panicked because one million people came to 35 countries in 2015 across the Mediterranean. Now five nations in Latin America received three million and they still haven’t closed the borders.’ Yet there are signs the solidarity and good will is waning in countries already battling poverty and weakened economies.
With the highest number of Venezuelans living in neighboring Colombia, its schools, hospitals and other services are struggling to cope. According to the Colombian government, the influx of Venezuelan immigrants costs Colombia about 0.5 percent of its gross domestic product per year – equivalent to $1.5 billion. Since the exodus began in 2015, countries in South America have largely kept their borders open to Venezuelans but there are signs that is changing. This month, Chile refused to sign a U.N. migration pact aimed at improving migrant integration and protection. Chile also now requires Venezuelans to apply for entry at consulates in Venezuela and to show a passport, which many do not have.