Venezuela’s political crisis has led to a dramatic increase in emigration to neighboring countries. But according to a Reuters report, the number of Venezuelans returning home – part of a previous wave of migrants – has seen an uptick as well. CGTN’s Juan Carlos Lamas reports from Caracas.
Lines at Venezuelan airports are not just comprised of those leaving but also those returning, empty-handed.
A U.S. report on global migration estimates one-point-eight million people have left Venezuela in the 15 years since the economic crisis in the country took hold.
“The constitution and Venezuelan laws are no longer working and are not solving the problems citizens have,” said Carlos Luna, director of Social Studies at the Central University of Venezuela. “And it’s for that reason many Venezuelans are looking for a better quality of life even if that means their social status is lower in other countries.”
But even though the number of Venezuelans who migrate has gone up, there’s also an increase in the number of those who return — often because many leave without enough savings.
One example is Leandro Colmenares, a medical equipment repairman, who came back to Venezuela after leaving a year ago for Colombia and then Panama.
“I decided to start a new life outside Venezuela, just to see if I could improve my income, since here it was impossible,” Colmenares said. “But after being alone in two different countries, I found myself frustrated, without money, family, and, worst of all, without a job. It was not what I thought it would be.”
Like many others, Colmenares sold everything he had—including his car, television and furniture—to scrape together enough money to leave. Now back in Venezuela, living in an empty house, he does whatever work he can find in order to feed his family.
“I was treated like nothing, starved and humiliated,” he said. “It’s not easy to be a professional and then suddenly find yourself cleaning toilets. There’s nothing wrong with it; it’s just not me. I did it for my children and family, and I have returned for them and for their security.”
His new job is selling corn flour. He says it’s hard work, but he earns more than he did as a computer technician.
Colmenares’ story is similar to many who have fled the crisis in Venezuela, but who have had to return after not finding stable work or the legal right to stay in another country.