The Venezuelan Crisis: The perspective of Sonia Osorio
By Jessica Hernandez Blanco
On Nov. 7 the department of English and foreign languages hosted its first series on exile scholarship entitled “Venezuelan exodus: an escape from the misery and repression.”
Sonia Osorio, journalist and editor of El Nuevo Herald, was invited to speak to students on the Venezuelan exile crises. In her academic research, Osorio examined the personal stories of women who managed to escape political turmoil in Venezuela.
Osorio found out that many people who migrated to neighbor countries lived in impoverished conditions in overcrowded houses and tents. Some work informal jobs on the streets. Many women were in danger when they were promised jobs as models and were forced into prostitution.
She also presented a documentary on present living conditions in Venezuela that mapped the long journeys of refugees.
“Venezuela is facing the largest and fastest immigration crisis in the history of Latin America,” said Osorio.
And, Osorio explained that over 4.5 million Venezuelan refugees have migrated from their country. This number is expected to grow in 2020.
Trends of Venezuelan migration spiked after the Chavez administration dismissed over 18,000 professionals of the state-owned petroleum company PDVSA earlier in 2003.
However, current migration trends have increased even more due to the current political crisis in Venezuela. Osorio mentioned that over 52 percent of current refugees live in Florida.
“There are many more across the U.S.” said Osorio.
And, those Venezuelan refugees have uncertain futures once they migrate.
U.S. asylum seekers must pass a credible fear test that determines whether there is an imminent threat in their native country. Once passing, they receive social security numbers that permit their stay. But it does not guarantee U.S. residency and protection.
Venezuelans face more risks in other countries.
Osorio told The Buccaneer that the Venezuelan crisis may not improve because of high polarization in the country, nonexistent democracy, drug trafficking, and corruption.
She mentioned political willingness as the main form of improvement but agreed that international pressures and the acceptance of interim president, Juan Guaidó would suffice.
Osorio explained the benefits of international pressures.
“It drove the world’s attention to Venezuela’s severe crisis. The people that [spent] years asking for help did not receive it until the situation got worse and affected [the society and economy of] other Latin American countries,” said Osorio.
“Up-to-now 58 governments have recognized the legitimacy of the interim president Juan Guaidó and that has contributed to putting Venezuela on the map,” she concluded.
Though humanitarian efforts have failed in the past, an unconventional route called Caminas Verdes, has facilitated the entrance of medical equipment, non-perishable food, and other valued items.
The exile literature series on Spain, Cuba and Venezuela, will continue throughout Nov. in Lehman Hall 103.
On Nov. 14, they will feature “The Cuban Exile Musicians in the United States” by Fernando Hernández from 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.,
And Nov. 20, will be “Leon Felipe: an exiled poet” by assistant professor of Spanish, Beatriz Calvo- Peña from 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Photos of migrating Venezulans and the state of their country