Merseyside, United Kingdom, January 25 2018 (venezuelanalysis.com) - Colombian authorities deported up to 200 Venezuelan migrants from the border town of Cucuta Wednesday, in the midst of rising xenophobic attacks against the group from residents.
In recent months, local press reported that around 900 Venezuelan migrants had set up home on a local sports pitch in the Sevilla barrio of Cucuta, which they turned into a makeshift camp.
— César Rojas Ayala (@CesarConCucuta) January 21, 2018
Local press says up to 900 Venezuelans were sleeping in the camp (AlcaldiadeCucuta/Twitter)
The migrants said that they were fleeing the worsening economic crisis in neighbouring Venezuela and had crossed the border in order to find work. Nonetheless, the camp was evicted in the early hours of Wednesday morning by Colombian authorities, who said the many of the rough sleepers did not possess the correct paperwork.
Though the exact number of migrants transported back over to Venezuela is unknown, international media reports that the figure is between 100-200. Other migrants with Colombian heritage were taken to other Colombian cities where they had relatives, while thirty six with joint Venezuelan-Ecuadorean citizenship were also escorted to the border with Ecuador on a commercial coach, said the Cucuta Mayor’s office on its Twitter page.
The eviction and deportation of the camp, dubbed by locals as “Hotel Caracas”, comes on the heels of rising tensions between the migrants and locals. Last Sunday, a march was organised by residents in Cucuta to demand that authorities immediately remove the rough sleepers.
According to a flyer circulated for the demonstration and shared by Venezuelan news site Aporrea, locals were protesting against the “imposition of Venezuelan delinquents”. On Tuesday, Colombian authorities confirmed that the camp was also attacked with molotov cocktails.
The assault meant that just 200 Venezuelans remained on the sports pitch by the time authorities arrived Wednesday, with others having already fled.
Venezuela is currently undergoing its worst economic crisis since the 1990s, causing hundreds of thousands of citizens to emigrate. Though rich Venezuelans often head to the United States and Europe, most working class immigration has ended up in neighbouring Colombia and Brazil.
Colombia says that up to 450,000 Venezuelans have legally and illegally entered the country over the past 18 months, reversing the trend of previous decades in which Colombia’s civil war drove millions over the border seeking refuge in Venezuela. Approximately three million Colombians are thought to still live in the neighbouring country.