Logo de Confidencial Digital




Facing harsh conditions, Venezuelans will continue to migrate

Journalist Mardu Marron says Venezuelans will continue looking for alternatives. The Maduro regime’s authorities and official media have turned a blind

Cientos de personas migrantes permanecen varadas en un campamento improvisado hoy, en el Municipio de Tapanatepec, Estado de Oaxaca (México). Migrantes venezolanos y otras nacionalidades esperan hoy miércoles una respuesta de las autoridades migratorias mexicanas a un trámite de un pase migratorio. EFE/ Luis Villalobos

Redacción Confidencial

24 de octubre 2022


Over seven million Venezuelans have left their country since 2015, the UN recently reported. It’s a massive exodus, triggered by the political and economic crisis the country is experiencing under the government of Nicolas Maduro. Far from slowing, this mass migration has continued growing in recent months.

So far in 2022, over 187,000 migrants- mostly Venezuelan -, have crossed through the dangerous Darien Gap according to Panamanian authorities. They’re headed north, crossing Central America and Mexico in hopes of reaching the US border and applying for asylum.

On October 13, the US government announced new measures to stem the Venezuelan migration. They’ve imposed a program in which certain applicants would be granted legal residency for two years. These would be required to have a US sponsor and enter the country by air. However, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security is now warning that those who cross overland and attempt to enter the country will be sent back to Mexico.

The new policy “fell like a bucket of cold water” on the heads of Venezuelans already in transit through Central America, comments Mardu Marron, a journalist who covers immigration issues for the Venezuelan media outlet El Pitazo, in an interview on the online television news show Esta Noche.  

Venezuelans currently stranded in Costa Rica, hoping to obtain some money and recover their strength, say they’ll continue their trip north, regardless of the measure. “If I didn’t turn back in the Darien, and the jungle didn’t kill me, I believe there’s nothing that would make me turn around,” was one of the common sentiments that the Venezuelan migrants in Costa Rica shared with Confidencial in an October 16 article in Spanish published on their website.

The number of Venezuelans who have turned themselves in at the US southern border has quadrupled in the past year, with a monthly average of 15,000 migrants. In September alone, 33,000 Venezuelans were intercepted by US border patrol authorities, according to data from the US Office of Customs and Border Patrol.

Marron offered details about the repercussions the new immigration measures imposed by the US are having among Venezuelans currently in transit and those who are still inside Venezuela. He spoke of the expectations Venezuelans now have of the special program offering entry into the US for 24,000 selected Venezuelans, and how the Venezuelan government covers up the reality of this massive migration in their official media.

What repercussions have you noted, one week after the official US announcement of a new immigration policy blocking Venezuelans from entering the country overland at the southern border?

The measure was like a bucket of cold water for Venezuelans who were in transit through Central America. Many of them are asking to be sent back to Venezuela, according to testimonies we’ve gathered. However, others are determined to apply for this new restricted program of entry imposed by the US government. We should remember that many of the Venezuelans who are going north have a family member in the United States.

And in Venezuela? What are the reactions among family members of the migrants who are on the way, or who are already in the United States or in Mexico?

According to the testimonies we’ve been able to gather, these Venezuelans are asking to be sent back to their country, not for a new stay in Venezuela, but to try and plan a new trip elsewhere.

What do you know about the situation of Venezuelans who tried to enter the United States on October 12, the day the new immigration policy was announced. Is it clear how many are in the border towns in the north of Mexico, and what condition they’re in?

The Mexican media has reported that most, or nearly all, of the Venezuelans who were sent back to Mexico by the United States are in the streets of the cities there, like in Ciudad Juarez… Some did manage to obtain a spot in the temporary shelters, but the majority are in difficult conditions, dependent on the charity of the civil organizations in that country.

Things aren’t clear. Mexico has still not given clear signals regarding what will happen with those Venezuelans that the US has sent back to their country.

As you already mentioned, there are also Venezuelans in transit at this time. In Costa Rica, for example, the president has expressed his intention is to facilitate transportation [to the border] for them. Meanwhile, in Nicaragua, the Venezuelan migrants have denounced they’re being charged 150 dollars per person as a fee, or for acquiring a safe passage document allowing them to cross Nicaraguan territory. How do the transit policies of each country impact the Venezuelan migrants?

The Central American countries haven’t had a clear policy of attention to this situation. We’ve only been able to see sporadic reactions, which you could say are aimed at washing their hands of these Venezuelan migrants as quickly as possible, without attending to their basic needs for somewhere to stay temporarily and something to eat. They’re not looking for a definitive solution to the situation.

What impact do you think the contention measures have, such as the fines or transit permits that Nicaragua is charging them for?

The Venezuelans say they lack the economic resources to continue maintaining themselves in those countries. The paths they’ve utilized to reach the United States are unsafe routes where they’ve been exposed to great risks of robbery, and the journey has left them without the resources to continue going forward towards other destinations.

Thus far in 2022, over 187,000 immigrants, most of them Venezuelans, have crossed the Darien Gap according to Panamanian authorities. In 2021, the quantity of immigrants along this route was 133,000. Why are we seeing these record numbers of migrants, despite the huge dangers of the journey?

Several factors are in play there, but principally the sustained deterioration of the Venezuelans’ quality of life. In the last six years, the Venezuelans have seen their poverty increase at an accelerated rate. It’s a sustained deterioration that few societies have experienced.

While those living conditions don’t improve or change, the Venezuelans will continue leaving the country in ever more precarious conditions and along ever more unsafe routes.

Six million Venezuelans are now living outside of Venezuela. What do the authorities inside the country say about this massive exodus?

The Venezuelan authorities continue enshrining a narrative that denies the massive migration – a migration both widespread and forced. Right now, the government is celebrating a year of economic growth. It’s true that Venezuela grew by 7% this year; however, that’s not enough growth to bring the economic activities back to the levels that prevailed before the 2016 drop, and that were the fuse for this explosion of migration.

What can you see in the official news programs? Do they talk about the Venezuelans in transit over the Darien Gap, or in Mexico, or about the measures the United States is adopting?

Not in the official media. You can’t air that news. This reality isn’t seen, unless you turn to the independent media for news of what’s happening with the forced Venezuelan migration, especially in this past month.

The United States announced they’d receive 24,000 Venezuelans, with permission for temporary immigration. Candidates must fulfill requirements such as having a US sponsor and entering the country by air. How are Venezuelans reacting to this program? There are only 24,000 slots.

It’s not enough to fill the demands of Venezuelans who see the United States as the land of opportunity. Nevertheless, many have decided to follow this restrictive path, because they have a family member in that country. We’ve been able to determine that it will be an “upward climb” for those Venezuelans to get their relatives or some organization to serve as their sponsor and help them get to the US, because of the requirements demanded by that country.

One of the questions we’ve seen on social media has to do with the fact that the person applying needs a passport. What’s the situation in Venezuela with respect to that? Is it easy to get a passport right now?

No, it’s not easy. In fact, the Venezuelan passport is considered one of the five most expensive passports on the globe. Venezuelans who have trekked through dangerous routes like the Darien don’t have this document, because of the difficulties having access to one.

However, this new measure of the United States includes, or establishes, the possibility of applying with an expired Venezuelan passport, as long as the expiration date is within the past five years. Venezuelans who hold such an expired passport could apply for this option to get temporary permission to enter the United States. Of course, not everyone has a passport, even an expired one.

The other side of the measure is that of no longer receiving the migrants that arrive at the Mexican land border: Do you believe it will put the brakes on the flow of Venezuelan migrants to the United State, as US immigration authorities hope?

Everything seems to indicate that it’s fairly improbable it will slow the flow towards the United States, nor to other countries, because Venezuelans are emigrating in search of a decent life, which the government of Nicolas Maduro is incapable of offering them here in Venezuela.

While conditions in the country don’t improve, while the living conditions of Venezuelans don’t improve, they’ll continue leaving, whether or not each country imposes more barriers. We’ve seen this with the imposition of visas in Central America, with each country there now demanding that Venezuelans get a visa. Despite these restrictions, Venezuelans have continued risking their lives to get to other countries.

Are there other destinations that Venezuelans might possibly consider as an alternative at this time?

It’s probable that the neighboring countries – for example, Colombia, Brazil and Guyana – will find themselves with a greater number of Venezuelans in their territories. It’s also probable that the migration will become cyclical, with people going back and forth seasonally from Venezuela to Colombia, or from Venezuela to Brazil, or from Venezuela to Guyana. Such movements will most probably accelerate.


This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times


Your contribution allows us to report from exile.

The dictatorship forced us to leave Nicaragua and intends to censor us. Your financial contribution guarantees our coverage on a free, open website, without paywalls.

Redacción Confidencial

Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.