Photo: Reuters retrieved

On August 16th, 2019, the International Migration Organization (IOM) divulged their Missing Migrants Project numbers. The results are appalling: more than 500 people have lost their lives while migrating to another country within our region this year.

Of those, 89 Venezuelan migrants have died in 2019 only. 

Eighty-nine. Venezuelans are dying in their native country because they have no access to food, medicine, doctors or hospitals. They die of crime and violence, indigence. Now they also die when they leave in search of human rights and a dignified life.

89 Venezuelan migrants have died in 2019 only. 

The Missing Migrants Project has documented that Venezuelans are second only to the “Unknown” category, with 178 victims, as the most counted nationality. The “Unknown” include migrants whose remains were found in the desert long after they passed away, or who have been lost at sea. Of those that are “known,” Venezuelans top the list. Haiti (59), Guatemala (55) and Honduras (42) follow with the greatest number of dead migrants.

Irregular migration is killing our compatriots.

While some seek to migrate via trochas (shortcuts) or fall into the hands of coyotes and organized crime, some seek to flee through the sea: Around 75% of Venezuelan migrants who passed in 2019, did so in Caribbean waters. Since April, around 80 Venezuelans disappeared in shipwrecks as they tried to reach Trinidad and Tobago. Back in January, 30 Venezuelan migrants died at sea on their way to Curaçao.

Venezuelan migration may also be altering the regional numbers for missing migrants. There were only 384 recorded deaths in the same month last year, an increase of around 33%. Moreover, the IOM reports that this is the earliest point in any of the past six years that the Missing Migrants Project has reached a threshold of 500 or more deaths in the Americas.

the IOM reports that this is the earliest point in any of the past six years that the Missing Migrants Project has reached a threshold of 500 or more deaths in the Americas.

We need more information so we can propose actions to prevent these deaths from happening. The Venezuelan National Assembly appointed a commission to investigate, but more needs to be done. For one, the poor families of the missing migrants need answers, and this commission should provide them: How did their family members die? Can their bodies be found? Could it have been prevented? How do we make sure it doesn’t happen again? But we also need more information on which networks provide the irregular and unsafe methods of transportation. They’re preying on Venezuelans’ desperation, exposing them to a dire fate at sea. They must be brought to justice.

For Venezuelans, or any other migrant in the region, in the world: This. Has. To. Stop

 

* The views are personal. They do not represent those of the Organization of American States.

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