Cancun, Q.R. — More than 6,000 Venezuelans live in exile in the state of Quintana Roo due to the political upheaval in their own country.
According to the National Institute of Migration (INM), from 2014 to date, 8,400 applications for permanent residence status have been reported for Mexico with just over 2,700 being officially authorized. However, it is estimated that there are a similar number of Venezuelans residing in the country in an irregular manner.
The continual increase in jobs in the state of Quintana Roo, particularly in the construction and tourism sectors, has attracted thousands of Venezuelan refugees. INM notes that many of these families have been living in the county in exile for as long as eight years.
Beatriz Nones, originally from Caracas, Venezuela is one of those who has lived in Quintana Roo for eight years after the situation in her country became unsustainable for her husband and children. She herself qualifies her situation as a true exile.
“We are not accustomed to emigrate,” she confessed. Like her, thousands of her compatriots are in the Mexican Caribbean.
She says that despite missing her home on a daily basis, she acknowledges that arriving in Mexico eight years ago was the best decision for her family, which consists of her husband and six children.
“My husband was a producer of sugarcane and suddenly the government confiscated the land and we could not do anything. Since one of my children was married to the daughter of a Mexican, he was able to recover his nationality and he was the first to arrive. To see that the situation in Venezuela was worsening, we considered that it was a good time to emigrate before the situation became worse, as it is happening now,” she explained.
“My husband is very happy and we are working. Sometimes I am depressed — maybe I am more sensitive — but grateful to life and the state that has treated us well,” she said.
Another woman, Bertha Rodríguez from Ocumare del Tuy, Venezuela who has lived in Cancun for three months said she left when the first young opponents died during demonstrations against President Nicolás Maduro.
She saw it and could not get over it.
“It has made me suffer a lot. I’ve been stressed, depressed — it really has affected me a lot,” she said.
She was not spared from the food shortage or from the desperation of seeing empty shelves in pharmacies when a family member is ill.
“I had to be in a hospital with one of my brothers who had an operation and the medicines needed can not be gotten. I had to queue for food. It touched me and it’s strong and it’s sad. There, everyone is thin. Everyone has lost weight and not a kilo, but two kilos,” describes Bertha.
In Mexico she does not lack anything. Everyday she thinks about her people and remembers that many have not left — that they look in the garbage for food.
“Go to a restaurant here and see how much food they throw away. I have to turn away so nobody sees when my tears come out,” she said.
Dalia Fernandez, a Venezuelan migrant in Cancun explained, “My daughter decided that she had to leave the country because we had signed against the President of the Republic. There was a famous Tascon list there that anyone who was on that list could not get a job for anything.”
In 2016 alone, the Venezuelan Observatory of Violence documented 28,479 violent deaths throughout the country, an index of 91.8 homicides per 100,000 inhabitants. According to the Observatory, Caracas is 14 times more violent than Sao Paulo, Brazil, 10 times more than Bogotá, Colombia and 15 times more than Mexico City.
The International Monetary Fund says inflation in Venezuela will reach 720.5 percent by the end of 2017.
According to the Venezuelan Diaspora in Cancún, more than 6,000 Venezuelans live in Quintana Roo. At the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) that was held in Cancun in June, hundreds came out to protest the situation in their country.