Here Is Why Colombia Is Opening Its Arms To Venezuela

Colombia opens its arms to Venezuela receiving over 1,174,443 refugees according to the government agency, Migración Colombia. Out of the total refugees, 695,496 have legal documentation, and 479,247 come with incomplete documentation. Colombia has kept its borders relatively easy to access while surrounding countries have taken an initiative to tighten border security or require legal documentation. In an interview with Christiane Amanpour, President of Colombia Iván Duque stated: “I have decided that we are not going to close the border, we have to give them support.”

Venezuela’s humanitarian socio-political situation keeps getting worse with the progression of time. Currently, ninety percent of the country lives in poverty as ninety-four percent of Venezuelans have no income. More than half of families are unable to meet basic food needs, according to the Observatorio Venezolano de Salud (OVS), and one out of 10 Venezuelans are undernourished. The shortage of eighty-five percent of medicines makes the population more vulnerable to serious diseases. With the recent and ongoing blackout, eighty babies and eleven adults have died due to hospitals lack of electricity plants. In protests against the government of Nicolas Maduro, it is estimated that 40 people have died, and around 696 people have been detained. Yet this information is unknown due to the massive censorship control the government has over the press.

Colombia has shown great solidarity and empathy according to the Banco Mundial. Yet for Colombians, this is just a small way to reattribute for Venezuelan kindness during the mid-1970s to mid-1990s, which was one of the countries most violent times. According to the National Administrative Department of Statistics (DANE) around 56,345 Colombian’s left to Venezuela at the beginning of the 1970s. This was mostly for economic reasons as the oil boom caused an increase in per capita condition and brought prosperity. Towards the beginning of the 1980s the guerrilla movement, Fuerzas Armadas de Colombia (FARC), begin causing terror and international concern. Around this time prominent figures opposing the narco regimen were recklessly getting murdered. Although there was not an official record, Italian/Venezuelan geographer and university professor, Antonio de Lisio predicted that “Around five million Colombians fled” in an interview with El Tiempo.

Therefore, many Colombians in Cucuta, the neighbouring city to the border, has received families in proper homes or foster providing food, medical care, and education for children. Multiple Colombian YouTubers have united creating the hashtag #UnChallengePorVenezuela. The purpose of the hashtag was bringing awareness to the multiple hardships and stories of Venezuelan citizens, gestures to bring happiness through this abhorrent suffering, and an outlet for helping inform people how could they help in this humanitarian crisis.

What goes through many Colombian’s minds is the scarcity of jobs as well as the rise of delinquency, yet the government of Iván Duque delivered CONPES 3950. This document explains the government strategy to welcome Venezuelans. In education, the government is prioritizing Venezuelan children in schools. The main goals of the government are making schools a xenophobic free place where the child can fully develop their intellectual needs. The Colombian government is also hoping to legalize work, as this will avoid the need for illegal jobs or exploitative ones. In terms of delinquency, the Colombian Government hopes to implement programs to help rehabilitate this behaviour. Although if a crime is committed more than once, strict judicial measures will be taken. Lastly, in healthcare, institutions such as the Institute of Well Being of Family (ICBF) will receive an 85% increment in resources to help Venezuelan families. The total budget of the program is an estimated 422,799 million COP (Colombian Pesos).

Many have an optimistic view that this might generate economic prosperity, as within the country small businesses might begin generating employment. According to Venezuelan economist Dany Bahar, “There is vast literature in economics showing how migrants are entrepreneurs at a much higher rate than locals, the act of migrating itself is an act of risk-taking, and that’s the kind of profile of an entrepreneur.”  Therefore many have high hopes this push will create the proper way for Venezuelans to feel welcome. This plan is so far the most organized way of handling this situation. The international help Colombia has been receiving from foreign countries has definitely helped in giving Venezuelans kind support of solidarity, as for many Colombian’s the feeling of fear, desperation, and sadness creates a feeling of deja vu. Right now Colombia, as well as the international community, is supporting Venezuela in the hopes that these somber days can be placed in the past.