Make no mistake, mass illegal immigration does not yield any benefits for host countries.
Flooding a country with thousands or tens of thousands of people, with different beliefs and customs every year only produces social instability. Germany, France and Sweden are undeniable examples of this.
In Latin America it is not an exception.
The arrival in neighboring countries of thousands of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans fleeing the crisis in their respective countries caused the first outbreaks of protests and regional tensions.
Brazil will send troops to its border with Venezuela after the violent expulsion of Venezuelans from a border city.
Ecuador limits their entry from the weekend, a measure that Peru will apply on Saturday after the arrival, last week, of 20,000 Venezuelans.
In Costa Rica, protests against the presence of Nicaraguans took hundreds of people to the streets on Saturday.
The UN estimates that 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their country due to the ongoing civil war situation.
Hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed the land borders to Brazil and Colombia in recent months to try to escape the economic, political and social crisis that their country is experiencing.
Colombia has given temporary residence to more than 800,000 Venezuelan people. Many of these refugees undertake long walks every day to reach Peru, Chile, Argentina and even Uruguay.
Peru, which for two years has granted them a temporary work permit, estimates that almost 400,000 Venezuelans have settled in their territory over the last year.
The peak was on August 11, when 5,100 people entered on that day alone.
In Ecuador, at least one million Venezuelans have crossed the border, although those who remain in the country are about 250,000.
In the face of criticism, Quito has eliminated the passport requirement for the entry into the country for Venezuelan children and adolescents whenever they arrive accompanied by their parents or guardians with the aforementioned document.
The administrative restrictions had an immediate effect and on Saturday there was little influx of Venezuelans on the border between Ecuador and Colombia, when the requirement to present the passport came into force.
At the same time, the crisis unleashed in Nicaragua since mid-April, due to the wave of anti-government protests harshly repressed by security forces and armed groups serving the regime, has led to the exodus of thousands of Nicaraguans, most of whom have taken refuge in Costa Rica.
There are no official data on the actual number of arrivals, because many of them enter illegally.
The migratory pressure of Venezuelans and Nicaraguans in countries in delicate equilibrium due to the economic crisis and the increase in crime is causing a very complex situation from the point of view of security.
The city of Paracaima, in the State of Roraima – north of Brazil – has become a time bomb. The town, with 16,000 inhabitants, is the gateway for Venezuelans fleeing the Nicolás Maduro’s regime.
Over the last few months, more than 40,000 Venezuelans have arrived and many of them – a thousand, according to different sources – are housed in stores scattered around the city.
On Saturday, after a local merchant was assaulted by four Venezuelans, according to the version of the local police, the population reacted with a protest against the migrants’ presence in the city.
The demonstrators destroyed their tents, burned their belongings and attacked the Venezuelans with stones and artisanal incendiary devices.
The videos of the incidents published on social networks show the level of general tension. “We can not stand these bandits anymore, who are stealing our houses and bothering our women,” shouted a man in a recording.
At least 1,200 Venezuelans have left Brazil in the last few days in the wake of the Paracaima incidents. The Brazilian government called a meeting yesterday to analyze the facts.
Moving to other cities
Some of the Venezuelans look for work opportunities in Brazil and others continue their journey to other countries.
In February, the president of Brazil, Michel Temer, admitted the vulnerability of foreigners and announced aid measures, in addition to proposing to take them to other cities in the countryside of the State and other States such as São Paulo, 3,500 kilometers from Roraima.
The Government promised to move 18,000 Venezuelans to other cities and so far has only evacuated 800.
Two months before the elections that will renew the presidency and Congress, the crisis with Venezuelans may end up being used politically.
Some candidates have defended the closure of the border with Venezuela. The Brazilian Lawyers Order (OAB) has also warned of the risk of new incidents.
“It is clear that the problem is aggravated by the ineffectiveness of the authorities. What was a humanitarian issue now has a strong connotation of security,” said Claudio Lamachia, president of OAB.
Meanwhile, countries such as Ecuador and Peru have tightened entry requirements to try to stop the flood of arrivals.
Last weekend Ecuador requested the passport to any Venezuelan who wants to enter the country; identical measures will be adopted in Peru.
Until now, Venezuelans could enter the Andean countries with their identity card, given the difficulties of obtaining a passport in Venezuela.
For two years, this administrative process has become an odyssey due to the lack of materials and because the appointment is delayed for months.
Other countries have begun to demand visas from Venezuelans. Chile requests a certificate of criminal record that must be issued by the Ministry of Interior and Justice of Venezuela, in addition to the requirement that the passport does not expire in the following 18 months upon entry.
In addition, the Venezuelan consulate in Chile has begun to request the payment of 50 US dollars for the certification of criminal certificates to its citizens, an exorbitant amount for most of the refugees.
Exodus of Nicaraguans to Costa Rica is a historic fact
Tension has also increased between Costa Rica and Nicaragua. Since the crisis broke out in Managua – a wave of protests against a Social Security reform project – more than 23,000 asylum applications have been received in Costa Rica, although many correspond to Nicaraguans who arrived prior to this exodus, when the colony Nicaragua represented 10% of the country’s population.
Two shelters were set up to accommodate newcomers. However, they are practically unused since most of them stay in the homes of relatives or acquaintances thanks to the existence of large Nicaraguan migrant networks that provide support from the beginning.
The progressive increase in the number of arrivals has generated a very clear rejection in social networks among Costa Ricans as well as the coverage of some media.
Spurred by the discomfort arising from the deterioration of living conditions and public services, as well as rising insecurity, hundreds of Costa Ricans participated in a demonstration against Nicaraguan immigrants called via social networks.
The police carried out 44 arrests and the seizure of knives and homemade bombs, but has not yet identified the organizers. The mob went to a park where the cry of “go away nicas” was shouted against Nicaraguan illegal and legal immigrants.
Among the detainees there are some with criminal records and members of radical groups.
The unprecedented demonstration triggered an alarm in Costa Rica, a country that historically, tough many times unwillingly, has given assistance to people fleeing their countries.