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Direitos Humanos / 20/06/2020

Forgotten refugees Latin America

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Forgotten refugees Latin America

Fonte DW

The biggest crisis outside of war zones occurs in Venezuela. The Central American "caravan" briefly stole attention. But the truth is that the world is not interested in the situation in Latin America, says Uta Thofern, head of DW's Latin America Department

For a few days, they made news all over the world: Hondurans - who initially numbered hundreds and then became thousands - together with citizens other neighboring countries, set out on the road to the United States with the dream of a better life.

"Caravan" was the key word that was consolidated in relation to this march of desperate people to criticize the American President, Donald Trump, and his immigration policy.

In Honduras, the caravan brought to light the profound social inequalities and violence that its president, conservative Juan Orlando Hernández, was unable to control, even after his extremely controversial reelection.

In the United States and other parts of the world, this growing flow of people has been exploited by right-wing populism as if it were the embodiment of a nightmare that "masses are 'invading' us and used for propaganda purposes.

A G20 summit later, the "caravan" was no longer in the news. The world had other news and concerns again. Taking care of the refugees who remained in Mexico was in charge of the country's new president, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, but he preferred to dedicate himself to other priorities after taking office.

The controversial debate over the UN's global migration pact, fueled by images of the "caravan", left permanent damage. And people stranded in Mexico not only have to deal with their failed dreams, but also with the growing incomprehension of many local residents.

The constant exposure in the press and the solicitous support of various humanitarian organizations have, in some cases, fueled the hopes of refugees, which has overwhelmed the traditional willingness to help Mexicans.

The "caravan" has been forgotten and shares its destiny with the 3.3 million Venezuelans who have already left the country, according to UN estimates. The number represents one in ten inhabitants, and the exodus continues.

But Venezuela's flight occurs steadily, not in notable crowds. And the flow does not go north, towards Donald Trump. There, paradoxically, Venezuelans would be more likely to be heard, since Trump likes to dispute against Nicolás Maduro's pseudo-socialist dictatorship.

The criticism of the United States, however, comes the wrong side and only contributes to stabilize Maduro. Nothing is more hated in Latin America than American interventionism.

Furthermore, it is necessary to consider that the global left continues to romanticize the Bolivarian revolution. Thus, it is difficult to call the crisis the name it deserves and to identify "21st century socialism" as its origin.

On the other hand, while conservative governments in Latin America share strong criticisms of Maduro and his policies, they cannot and do not want to bear the burden of migration alone.

Chile ended up not signing the UN pact for migration, and in Colombia, new president Iván Duque won the election by warning against the country's "Venezuelanization" if the left won. None of this improves the popularity of Venezuela's refugees.

It is also true that Venezuelans are no longer fleeing the dictatorship, but hunger and daily violence, as well as Hondurans, Guatemalans and Salvadorans.

They are all instrumentalized by different political interests. The people and countries that receive them - especially Colombia - are largely left to their own devices.

Refugee movements in Latin America have different causes, but also a common denominator: misery and suffering - and these feelings know no ideology.

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