The extremely serious economic and political situation that Venezuela has gone through has caused massive migrations. It is what is known as the Venezuelan diaspora. Migrations have had a profound impact both on Venezuela itself and on host countries.
The year 2015 was coming to an end when the so-called Venezuelan diaspora began. Since then, millions of Venezuelans have left their homeland in search of a better future. Among the reasons that have prompted them to leave their country are an economy devastated by inflation and in which business expropriations have been the order of the day. Nor should we forget economically that we are dealing with a nation that has suffered from food shortages, which has suffered energy supply cuts and whose oil exports have plummeted.
Likewise, the lack of freedoms, the high crime rate and Maduro’s permanence in power have led many Venezuelans to seek a better future in other countries.
What has this great exodus meant for Venezuela?
The departure of more than five million Venezuelans has had undeniable economic repercussions. For Venezuela itself it has been a drain on human capital. Hundreds of thousands of companies have been forced to close, while Venezuela said goodbye to professionals with a very high level of training.
For society and the economy it is traumatic to lose its most qualified citizens. We are talking about doctors, teachers and business managers. It is a terrible loss of human capital with university degrees and even Venezuelans who speak several languages. However, with a terribly bleak economic outlook, Venezuelan companies could do little to ensure some job security for their most qualified employees.
By losing workers who have more experience and training, many Venezuelan companies have had no choice but to use personnel without sufficient knowledge or experience. In other words, the shortage of qualified labor has meant that, when hiring staff, companies lower their demands for experience and knowledge.
However, those who emigrate, long for their home and have demonstrated in various countries demanding a great political and economic turnaround. Those who emigrate do not forget the loved ones they leave in their homeland. And it is that, from abroad, many Venezuelans send remittances to their families. These remittances are becoming a very important source of income that allows many households to survive.
What has been the economic impact of the Venezuelan diaspora in other countries?
Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Peru have been the Latin American countries that have received the most Venezuelan immigration. Receiving such an overwhelming number of human beings is a great challenge for any economy and implies mobilizing significant economic resources to be able to accommodate them.
Serving a migrant population entails providing them with health care and support from social services. In this sense, there are many Venezuelans who require health care for issues such as vaccinations and childbirth. Another basic service is education. The arrival of large numbers of people from Venezuela has forced many countries to expand the size of their schools.
For this reason, from the point of view of public accounts, countries like Colombia saw how, by considerably increasing public spending, they had to readjust their deficit targets. Thus, it has been the Latin American countries that have borne most of the economic cost that this migration challenge represents.
But, beyond the economic cost that this exodus implies for the Latin American states, how has the integration of Venezuelan immigration been?
Although Venezuelans have a high level of education, in many cases higher than that of the inhabitants of countries such as Peru or Ecuador, they lack sufficient financial resources. Thus, Venezuelans have been working in jobs that do not correspond to their level of studies, subsisting thanks to temporary contracts. There are many who even survive thanks to the informal economy, without a contract and operating in sectors that are not very productive. Unfortunately, this labor informality is proving to be quite common among Venezuelans.
The incorporation of Venezuelan immigration into the formal economy is proving complex and its inclusion goes beyond the world of work. The lack of resources of many Venezuelans has in many cases prevented their schooling, without neglecting that they do not know how the educational system works or the serious added difficulties that lack of documents entails. All of this translates into greater pressure on public education.
A chapter that cannot be neglected is the health plan either. Along these lines, it should be noted that there are many Venezuelans who have not attended health centers because they do not have sufficient financial resources and because they do not have health insurance, in a scenario in which the scarcity of health resources also has an outstanding relevance.
It is clear that a mass exodus such as the Venezuelan diaspora is being a challenge and a social and economic drama within and outside the borders of Venezuela.