Venezuelan Migrants Face Increased Violence in Colombia

(TELESUR) – A report obtained by the Reuters Agency has revealed the extent of the violence faced by Venezuelan migrants amid growing xenophobia in Colombia. An increasing number of Venezuelans abroad, in Colombia and other countries are returning home on the ‘Return to the Homeland’ scheme as many face in labor exploitation and xenophobia in countries such as Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

According to the new report by a Medical Examiners officer in Colombia; in the past few months, on average, one Venezuela national is killed every single day in Colombia. Since January, 233 have been killed.

The figures go back to 2009, but found that most of the violence has occurred between 2017 and 2019, where murder of Venezuelan migrants has tripled.

Many are concerned that number will continue to rise due to a growing climate of xenophobia in the country.

In 2018, there was a relatively welcoming climate, with polls showing that 58% of Colombians supported allowing Venezuelans entry to the country. Whereas today, a gallup poll in June showed that 55% now oppose allowing Venezuelans into Colombia, with a huge 67% saying they have a negative opinion towards Venezuelan nationals.

Right-wing paramilitaries have also been threatening migrants: the notorious ‘Black Eagles’ paramilitary group has threatened a “social cleansing” of “bums and thieves that generally are Venezuelans”.

Such violence is not confined to Colombia, in Ecuador, vigilante mobs in the city of Ibarra carried out riots where they attacked Venezuelan migrants and hostels where they were staying. In Brazil and Peru, such attacks have also been reported.

Amid such growing xenophobia, along with labor exploitation, a growing number of Venezuelans are returning home on free flights provided by the Venezuelan government. The scheme is known as ‘Return to the Homeland”.

So far over 15,000 Venezuelans have taken up the offer, this includes , 7,285 from Brazil, 3,191 from Peru,  3,242 from Ecuador, 764 from Colombia, 276 from the Dominican Republic, 434 from Argentina, 272 from Chile and 2 from Panama and Uruguay.

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