“Starting from scratch”: migrants return to Venezuela because they could not enter the United States

Two planes from Panama, each with around 70 migrants on board, landed at Simon Bolivar airport in Maiquetía, which serves Caracas, AFP found.

Another, carrying some 300 migrants, arrived shortly before midnight from Mexico. By evening, another hundred had returned.

Alejandrina González runs to hug her son, Yorvis Carrasquel, upon seeing him arrive at the terminal.

The 25-year-old sports an “I love you mom, dad” tattoo. He says he “emigrated to seek a better life, to seek a better future, but that didn’t happen.”

Now all he has to do is “work and move on”, he adds, resigned. “We fall and we get up”.

Like many other migrants, he crossed the dangerous Darien jungle, between Colombia and Panama, to try to reach the United States and seek asylum there.

On October 13, the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) announced that Venezuelans who illegally cross the US border will now be automatically deported to Mexico.

– “Five days in the jungle” –

In return, Washington promises to establish a humanitarian program to immigrate legally directly from Venezuela. It must concern 24,000 Venezuelans.

Washington hopes to slow down the pace of arrivals. Since October 2021, 155,000 Venezuelans have entered the United States through the Mexican border, a number that has tripled in the space of a year.

More than six million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015 according to the UN, in the face of the authoritarian regime of Nicolas Maduro and the economic slump.

Many initially found refuge in other Latin American countries. But the flow to the United States has recently exploded. Washington, which no longer has diplomatic relations with Caracas, has so far allowed Venezuelans to be admitted to the United States to file an asylum application.

The new policy of Democratic President Joe Biden’s government has taken 21-year-old Emmanuel Montero by surprise. He decided to return to his country from Panama.

“We had already crossed four countries, we were in Honduras”, he explains. “We stayed five days in the jungle, we took the shortest route which is also the most expensive”. “Everything was going really well”, despite a “difficult” passage due to the rain through the Darién.

Now he doesn’t know what the future will hold. The economic situation is complex. He spent the $300 he had left to pay for his return.

– “The American dream” –

Many of these Venezuelans had to sell their possessions to finance their trip to the United States.

Jorge Luis Piñeda, 39, a taxi driver, sold his vehicle to live “the American dream that everyone is looking for to earn a little more and give a little more” to his family.

He arrived at the border between Mexico and the United States on October 19, after the change in migration policy. He intended to surrender to US authorities and be able to stay.

“We said to ourselves + well, we’ll see what happens + and they chased us” to Mexico, he explains to AFP before boarding a special flight from the Venezuelan state company Conviasa which will take him cost $210.

He considers having been “cheated” by the United States and prefers to return because he cares about his family. He doesn’t think he’ll try again.

“We are going to start almost from zero,” says Ernesto Laitano, 24, a native of Maracaibo (north-west) on the Colombian border.

Tells him that he sold his car and his house to pay for the trip and left on September 25, with about fifty people from his neighborhood.

Last week, around 20 Venezuelans had already returned from Guatemala. And even more migrant returns are expected.

Source: AFP

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