Photo: Instituto de Estrategia retrieved.

94 Venezuelans returned from Chile a few days ago, as part of the Vuelta a la Patria plan.

The ambassador in Santiago, Arévalo Méndez, explained why they took the State’s offer of going back free of charge:

“…some came (to Chile) with socio-economic expectations that weren’t met. Others, even if they had a good socio-economic condition and good salary, missed their land, their family, their culture, their customs, their music and chose to return. Others didn’t insert themselves in the labor market and decided to come back as well.”

As seen in the video above, this is shameless political propaganda which uses the real plight of migrants to make Nicolás Maduro look good, and demonize other countries in the region. Maduro himself couldn’t resist the temptation and sent a direct message to Chileans.

Earlier this month, the migrant flow reached the unprecedented three million refugees and migrants.

But the pendulum swings both ways: the Chilean government is doing its own repatriation of nationals, through their Air Force. Foreign Minister Roberto Ampuero says that “Given the harsh difficulties they face living there (Venezuela), they want to return to our country and we’ll help them return.”

This comes as a bit of happenstance, since the aircraft is being used for another repatriation program involving Haitian immigrants, criticized by Chilean opposition as a veiled deportation scheme.

As part of their “strengthening of consular and migration policy program,” Chile helps their citizens who find themselves in vulnerable situations abroad, so they can return safely. Now most of those requests come from Venezuela, which have spiked since 2014 and rose to the top in 2016, according to their Foreign Ministry’s records.

Look at that and tell me the Venezuelan crisis isn’t affecting the region: Earlier this month, the migrant flow reached the unprecedented three million refugees and migrants, according to latest figures of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

However, the Maduro administration is hellbent on denying and hiding it all (just ask the three journalists who were detained near the Brazilian border, trying to cover the story), and the Vuelta a la Patria plan (Return to the Fatherland) is a PR effort to spin it to its favor.

For more context, I recommend this Caracas Chronicles piece from late October.

The government assures that 9,623 Venezuelans have returned as result of the Vuelta a la Patria plan since its creation, but according to an investigation made by Tal Cual, only 25% of them come back by air.

The government assures that 9,623 Venezuelans have returned as result of the Vuelta a la Patria plan since its creation, but according to an investigation made by Tal Cual, only 25% of them come back by air. And in a twist that surprises absolutely no one, they are using the excuse of “international sabotage”.

The return of 94 Venezuelans can’t overshadow that plenty of them remain in Chile, and more are still going. The UNHCR report shows there’s more than 100,000 over there, and a recent article in La Tercera quoted numbers of the Investigations Police (which handles migration control): 147,429 Venezuelans have entered that nation up to July 31 this year. Compare that to the 177,347 who entered during the whole of 2017.

That number includes people from all walks of life, to the point where one Venezuelan will represent Chile in the 2018 Miss Universe pageant, to he held next month in Bangkok.

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