Photo: El Venezolano

Volume, speed and diversification of destination are the three characteristics of the massive Venezuelan exodus, one of the largest displacement movements ever seen in the region. Migración Argentina reports that, during the first two months of 2018, an average of 363 Venezuelans entered the country daily, and the number will surely be bigger for Peru, by the end of 2018. Regularization is the door to protection, but if a passport is required, let’s expect irregular migration to become status quo because, passport or no passport, this phenomenon is here to stay.

Let’s expect irregular migration to become status quo because, passport or no passport, this phenomenon is here to stay.

Within their sovereignty, each country of destination for Venezuelans has its own ways of processing their legal status, based on the options available in their migration regime. While Colombia set a commendable example at the beginning of August, with the approval of Decree 1288, Ecuador and Peru decided to change their conditions of entry. In the past, Venezuelans only needed their cédula de identidad to enter, but starting August, 2018 (just as the economic measures were announced), these countries decided to request a passport.

What are the migratory options for Venezuelans in Ecuador?

Back in 2008, the Ecuadorian government eliminated visa requirements to enter the country for transit and tourism; Venezuelans with these in mind have 180 days to apply for any of the visas under the 2017 Organic Law of Human Mobility. Mind you, Ecuador has its own diaspora and, advocating for their nationals’ rights overseas, the country has been a leader in the regional and global debate on human mobility. Its 2017 law also grants foreigners the same rights as Ecuadorian citizens.

There are two specific visa categories that can be requested by Venezuelan nationals: the 2011 Ecuadorian-Venezuelan Migration Statute, that grants temporary residence if economic solvency is demonstrated, and the UNASUR visa (the same UNASUR President Lenin Moreno is threatening to leave), through which nationals of the block can have access to temporary or permanent residence.

Mind you, Ecuador has its own diaspora and, advocating for their nationals’ rights overseas, the country has been a leader in the regional and global debate on human mobility.

These options didn’t require valid passports, only an identity document: the Venezuelan cédula de identidad.

On Thursday, August 16, Ecuador announced that Venezuelans would require passports, starting on August 18, alleging security problems in Venezuelan birth certificates and cédulas. Part of the goal was to prevent human trafficking by ensuring regular migration with regular documents.

Now, there’s tension between the need to ensure a country’s national security and guarantee human rights of migrants and refugees; each nation has the right to find the appropriate balance for its own context, and this right must be respected.

But you must also keep in mind the context of those entering: requiring a passport has all sorts of implications, since it’s easier for a Venezuelan to juggle chainsaws on a skateboard than getting a passport.

Desperate migrants will find a way to cross Ecuador through illegal paths, as  they’ll do to cross Peru (also requiring passports, starting on August 25, 2018). Venezuelans will just get stuck at the border and will suffer not only the cold, but also crimes and abuses by those who feed from their vulnerability.

So, Venezuelans should thank the Defensoría del Pueblo del Ecuador.

Because as soon as the passport requirement was announced, the ombudsman questioned it, asserting that “the cruelty of these decisions generate discrimination and xenophobia,” while deepening the tragedy Venezuelans live. The Defensoría presented a request for precautionary measures on behalf of displaced Venezuelans, alleging the imminent risk of violating the right to legal security, equality and non-discrimination.

As soon as the passport requirement was announced, the ombudsman questioned it.

On Friday, August 24, 2018, the measure was suspended for at least 45 days. The judge in charge gave the Foreign Relations’ office that time to prepare an alternative plan.

The next bottleneck is Peru. Ecuador has called for a technical meeting of migration authorities, on September 3, to compare notes. It also called a meeting for September 17-18, 2018, with ten other countries (13 total, including Venezuela), to discuss what each is doing to address the crisis and ensure an orderly migration. The Organization of American States also stands ready to support these regional efforts for coordination, since it’s the main political, juridical and social governmental forum in the hemisphere.

No country can address the Venezuelan migration and refugee crisis alone. At this point, the challenge has become collective, and thus merits collective action. Venezuelan caminantes cannot wait.

* The views are personal and do not represent the position of the OAS.

Caracas Chronicles is 100% reader-supported. Support independent Venezuelan journalism by making a donation.


  1. Are there significant numbers of VZers who have FLOWN to neighboring countries not requiring passports?

    Just curious, because all we see is the foot exodus.

  2. While commendable, these actions on the part of Venezuela’s neighbors seem akin to a doctor treating the symptoms while ignoring the cancer that causes them.

  3. Clearly, this is at minimum what Chavismo wants. I doubt they have the mental fortitude to plan such chaos.

    Curious thing about Marxism… if people want to stay, its part of the glorious plan. If people want to leave, its part of the glorious plan. Because the beauty of Marxism is, it is never wrong.

    Spend an hour with a Russian. You will soon discover that Russia is perfection. Czaritst Russia was perfect. Communism was perfect. The fall of Communism was perfect. Putinism is perfect. Russians has only been involved in any sort of aggression that someone else started. Saintly Russia.

    Venezuela under Chavismo is the same

    • lol that is soooooo true ! one of my colleagues is Russian, it’s quite amusing to hear the lengths he would go to defend putin and to blame the “west” for everything.

  4. “The Organization of American States also stands ready to support these regional efforts for coordination, since it’s the main political, juridical and social governmental forum in the hemisphere.”

    With all due respect, Ms. Hyphenated-Last-Name, the Chavistas laugh at the OAS.

    When someone stands up in your organization and says: “Venezuela is ruled by an iron fist of ruthless gangsters, and the only way to rid the hemisphere of them is to hunt them down and kill them,” then maybe the Chavistas and, indeed, the rest of the world, will take your organization seriously.

    • My nine year old son was telling me at dinner about the OAS resolving ” the football war ” between El Salvador and Honduras . I was quite impressed how he had read up about this … I had never heard of it.

    • The respect that useless bureaucrats’ clubs like the OAS, UN, the EU and their agencies still draw from most of the people is one of the things that baffle me.

      I don’t hate these bureaucrats, though. I just wish they all become unemployed.

  5. Betilde, is a closet painter one who paints closets, or a painter who hasn’t come out of the closet yet? Anyway, human rights aside, Ecuador/Peru/even Colombia are POOR countries, albeit not so poor as self-destructed Venezuela, and allowing unfettered immigration of mostly-poor Venezuelans will simply make them poorer, plus put an unbearable strain on their own citizens’ social safety nets. Yes, Venezuela did accept unbridled immigration from these countries during its BOOM years, but the country was then foolish-rich, and could afford it.

    • A closet painter is someone who paints, but doesn’t show their work to anyone. Reading comprehension would allow you to deduce that.

    • I was thinking she uses a closet as her painting studio.

      Not sure what mismo nivel (same level?) refers to. Credentials, like opinions, are personal.

  6. I wonder which fate would be preferable: the life of an undocumented immigrant to Peru or Colombia, or the life of quiet desperation in some North American suburb married to Beavis or Butthead commenter here.

  7. I posted this in another story, but that story vanished:

    Press leaks/reports indicate that the U.S. will start the sales embargo of dilutants in September. They just have to do the math to see how it will affect U.S. gas prices, and work out a relief program/strategy to help U.S. refineries that are particularly hard hit by it.

    The summer vacation travel season has passed, and the cold winter oil heating needs are still months off, so this may have a lot to do with timing as well.

    With Labor Day this coming Monday, which indicates the end of the U.S. vacation “season,” I say the clock on this starts ticking Tuesday.

    • I’m sure the levels of the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves have a lot to do with it also, but those numbers confuse me, and I sure don’t understand the politics behind whether to release whatever quantities into the market or not.

  8. There’s still a lot of , cash coming into Ven. for oil sales to the US, while commitments to other countries and paying down debt gets ignored. Regan.famously said of Russia before the fall – not to worry. They have no money. If the US stopped buying oil from Venezuela, and selling them dilutants (required for Ven to sell Orinoco mud), Venezuela would basially have no liquid assets to operate save what they are selling from the gold mines.

    The US is bound to make a play sooner than later, one that will not emperil the US military or cost it much of anything, which is Trump’s bottom line: don’t waste money on losers. Clearly Venezuela is presently incapible of self-correction. Stern words from various organizations are toothless. No external force is going to invade or force the issue because that would put them on the hook for the clean up. So you shut down access to actual money and watch Chavismo implode. The idea that the US is still buying Venny oil is absurd at this point, knowing where that money is going.

    • Is there no one else to buy dilutants from? Is there no other place to sell their oil to? Maybe is not as profitable, but are they absolutely stuck if US does not do business with them?

      Personally, I am against this. It just allows the world’s lefties to blame the US for all of Venezuela’s failings and confirms the existence of the “economic war.” Just like the Cuban Embargo.

      • They can buy dilutants elsewhere, if they want the 10,000 miles (more?) shipping time and much added cost.

        No, there’s no other place for them to sell oil to. The U.S. is the only place that pays cash, which is what they need so desperately.

        Finally, who gives a fuck who blames the U.S.? They’re doing it now, even before we start the sales embargo on dilutants. Blaming the U.S. for VZ’s current problems is absurd.

        I get really, really disgusted with this line of political thinking, that the U.S. shouldn’t help topple this regime in any way at all, because they’re going to be blamed for hurting the people and not credited with helping them by toppling a corrupt regime.

        It’s pretty ridiculous, you know?

    • Best Plan A, but still worried about Gulf refiners supply/U.S. gas price effect, especially in face of Saudi pre-10% Aramco sale $80/bbl objective/blame for Ven. resulting bigger humanitarian disaster/no guarantee of necessary Ven. Leftist/rogue elements cleaned out. Then, there’s Plan B….

  9. In the past Venezuelans never spoke of moving abroad , maybe they would go on a visit to some distant relatives or as tourists but moving was something very few venezuelans did or even thought of , now there is no meeting even casual meetings with friends acquiantances or even perfect strangers, where the conversation doesnt drift towards that omnipresent all pervasive topic , moving abroad , every one you meet any where has a relative abroad or who is about to move abroad or are themselves preparing to move abroad , be it of humble class, middle class or whatever ….., if they gave every one a thousand dollars to move abroad the towns and cities of Venezuela would be left deserted ……getting the required paperwork down is hellish yet people live through torments of red tape in order to get it ……, this include people in uniform , waiting in endless queues together with ordinary people to get their papers , Im told that is what happened in east germany forcing the regime to put out a wall to prevent people from moving to west germany even if conditions there where not half as bad as they are now in Venezuela …….whole classes of newly graduate professionals are moving outside Venezuela within a year …….., I wonder whether this has happened before in Latam except maybe in cases of civil war …….., Used to be the other way around , you saw a heavy constant influx of people coming from all over latam and from other places to move to Venezuela …there were no barriers ….every one was welcome , when ships full of european jewish refuges were being sent back any where they went before the war they were sure to be welcomed in Venezuela……, many of them intermarried with the locals , made their lives here ….became Venezuelans with no hassle , never did it cross our minds that someday we would become refugees like them pouring outside our country to whichever place took us in……!! Half my family is spread around the globe seeking a new life …and every where they ve gone they have been well recieved and started a new life for themselves ….!!

  10. Seems like the prevailing sentiment is: We can’t change or fix this, so you (anyone supporting or condoning/mooching off Chavismo) can have it. I wonder how few realize that the majority of those who go, will soon have lives elsewhere and while they might pine for “home,” few will ever rmove back. For those who have fled, it’s basically Game Over.

  11. The dictatorship is very very very happy and relieved.
    In fact I will say this was part of the plan.
    Venezuelans are emigrating in ways not even Russians, Belorussians or Cubans did.
    We cannot blame them (us) but this is whatChavismo
    wants. The kettle was going to burst but now it is less
    than a hiss.

    Why don’t people say it? They are giving
    up on changing Venezuela

    • I’m sorry, but this needs to be said. After meeting a couple of those “refugees” that landed in Ecuador & Peru, they still believe in the promise of Socialism, that is not Maduro’s fault, or Chavez’s fault that Venezuela is such in a dire situation.

      For years Venezuelan people were warned of the dangers of electing a pro-cuban, with clear communist tendencies, and instead of fixing their own mess, they decide it’s best to inconvenience other people in other countries while wearing clothes with the Venezuelan flag! go fu** yourself, you f*** chavista piece of sh*!

      Is bad enough they managed to messed up one beautiful country, now they want to destroy the rest of the continent too? They deserve none of the pity and needs to be deported ASAP.

      I don’t care if I sound callous, maybe Quico will pass my data to his buddy Maduro to have my family kidnapped or something, so I’m going anonymous on this one.

      • You are right, it needs to be said, but nobody wants to hear it.

        It would be nice if LatAm would learn something from the Vz socialist disaster, but even the refuges, from the poorest to the articulate like Quico, are still believers.

        Kepler seems to be coming around, so there might be hope for a few.

  12. I was curious about Ira’s comment on the US halting sales of dilutants to PDVSA. I came across multiple news stories about crude prices being down partly on the news of Venezuela announcing a boost to production.
    This from a Reuters news article,
    “In Venezuela, where production has halved since 2016, the state-run oil firm PDVSA said on Tuesday it had signed a $430 million investment agreement to increase production by 640,000 bpd, although some analysts doubted whether this investment would go through given ongoing instability.”

    And this,
    To stem tumbling output, Venezuelan state-run oil firm PDVSA said on Tuesday it had signed a $430 million investment agreement to increase production by 640,000 bpd at 14 oilfields, although given the country’s political and economic instability, many analysts doubted whether this investment would go through.*:nL8N1VK03S

    I thought the Trinidad and Tobago announcement dealt with a gas pipeline only. Anybody have any sources regarding these announcements.

    • Venezuela at 1.3 mil barrels a day can’t have a major effect on world prices. Especially since half that production goes to paying off China, Russia, and a lot of the rest, giveaways, like to Cuba.

      The Iran embargo has a much larger impact, and the U.S. is going through with that, right?

      With U.S. fracking, plus Canada and other non-OPEC producers picking up the slack, VZ oil is becoming relevant, and definitely irrelevant when we’re talking $65 to $85 a barrel.

      The biggest joke on earth are these stupid boasts that VZ has the largest reserves on earth, when all that really matters is, what the fuck does that have anything to do with next year production, supply, demand, and price?

      We’re talking 2018-2019, not 2050.

  13. This blog sucks.

    What is the point in discussing anything, whatever, about the old glory of the Venezuelan passport? What is this discussion about oil relevant? Who cares? Ira is right: OIL IS BECOMING IRRELEVANT; this is just one more commodity; not even strategic as it was in half a century ago. Water is the real thing.

    The neighbors act as they should do in a civilized world. They welcome you and provide for a day or two. But Venezuelan are coming only to collect INDEFINITELY. No responsibility whatsoever is assumed at the individual level.

    Those guys called migrants to other countries are a bunch of useless people, most of them don’t even know how to place a nail on a wall without breaking the wall first. They were accustomed not to work but to receive free stuff. They will sell themselves for a dollar each. Many are bandits called “vivos” not because they are alive. Venezuelans in the blog are “vivos” too, you better explain to the other citizens. They are dead-walking people. They are not refugees of any sort. There is no war in Venezuela as far as I know. Why don’t they fight back? what prevents them from organizing in Venezuela to become laborers, helpers to the old, cultivate potatoes or manioc, etc.

    They are cowards of the worse class as the world has never seen. These countries Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, etc. should send them back. Period. The problem with Venezuela is that they have reached the pinnacle of the “flojera”, this is an old blog on the subject. Why reinventing the wheel? in summary: The Venezuelan is lazy, ignorant, arrogant, and abusive. That last word is fatal in this moment of inexistent “crisis.”

    My rant of the day. You are welcome.

    PS to IRA: if you haven’t yet tried, use Grammarly, only works in English. But it’s true, even when writing in the WSJ, they allow up to 5 minutes to edit typos or mistakes. A suggestion for Caracas Chronicles, that they won’t read. Of course.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here