Venezuelan resilience: 5 tips from migrant to migrant

Venezuelan resilience: 5 tips from migrant to migrant

As of March 2019, Central America, North America and the Caribbean reported more than one and a half million Venezuelan refugees and migrants in countries of the region. One and a half million people who are learning to adapt to other scents, tastes, climate and lifestyles.

Some migrants in vulnerable conditions suffer from post-traumatic stress when crossing to a new country, but most will develop resilience skills, the capacity to resist, absorb knowledge, adapt and recover from the adverse effects of their transfer efficiently.

This is the case of Robinson Fereira:

Since Robinson was 23 years old, he imagined sharing the music of his native Venezuela outside his country. First, he thought of countries like Switzerland, France and Spain, but life moved him elsewhere

In Venezuela, the rental contract was about to expire. Robinson and Mariana, his wife, had to look for a new space, but no matter how hard they tried the conditions were difficult: the leases were very high, the places very small, and they were required to pay up to six months in advance in dollars, a currency that, for more than 10 years, has not been easy to acquire in Venezuela.

Before going through the ordeal of looking for a place to move, they evaluated the option of migrating in search of another future: one that offered a property with rent in accordance to the economic reality of the country, but also one that offered job opportunities, savings capacity and personal security.

"First, we tried to emigrate to the United States with the legal residency process, but it became complicated at the time. Then, at the invitation of one of my wife’s relatives, we made an exploratory trip to Panama, and that visit to this beautiful country was enough to decide that it would definitely be where we would make our life," Robinson said. On January 18, 2015, they departed from Maracaibo, Venezuela to Panama.

The adaptation process took a while, some things were complicated: open a personal bank account, get a good job as a music teacher, or find a downtown rental at a good price. But little by little, they succeeded.

Robinson and Mariana crossed paths with IOM through "Pianistmo", the first piano recital performed by Fereira’s students in Panama. Among the audience was none other than the Panamanian Roberto Delgado, musical director of Rubén Blades, and who recently invited Robinson to record in the new production "Salsa Big Band", an album that won two Latin Grammys and a Grammy Award.

Robinson considers himself very fortunate that in his early years in Panama, as a piano teacher and offering home classes, he was able to enter Panamanian homes to see how they are from the inside, in a private and familiar space.

"Without a doubt, you grow, you become strong and you learn to manage more and better resources every day, to cultivate good relationships, those that add good energy, respect and inspiration to your life," Robinson acknowledges.

We asked him what advice he would give to another Venezuelan migrant and Robinson shared the following ideas.

1. Investigate everything in relation to the country you choose as a destination, the more information you have, the better you will be able to move.

2. Create a life plan, at least for the first year in your new home.

3. Get your residence and work permit as quickly as possible, being a regular makes things much easier.

4. Open yourself up to new possibilities, do not believe that what you have is best. Every country and culture has its traits and its achievements, so if you plan to take that step it is better to have an open mind and be flexible, do not be afraid to adapt, do not be resistant to learning. Nothing bad happens if you learn another language, or if you add some phrases and expressions from the jargon of that new place to your vocabulary, you do not look bad, you're not ridiculous. It's just your mind doing the same as when you were a child, simple adaptation, survival.

5. Make friends in your new country, do not lock yourself in a bubble with other Venezuelan countrymen.

Contributor: IOM Panama

How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?

How will COVID-19 affect the achievement of the goals of the 2030 Agenda?
Categoria: Migration Governance
Autor: Laura Thompson


There is no doubt that the current pandemic has a broad humanitarian, social and economic impact in the short, medium and long term, which in turn may affect or delay the achievement of many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at different levels and in various ways.

The most evident impact, obviously, is on Goal 3, which seeks to guarantee a healthy life and promote well-being. The pandemic has put enormous pressures on health systems not only in relation to the treatment and management of the virus, but also affecting the ability to care for patients who have other diseases and increasing the risk of complications in populations with compromised health states. The pandemic has given greater visibility to the importance of universal access to health systems regardless of people's migratory status. However, the pandemic will also have implications for other aspects of the 2030 Agenda.


Impacts beyond health

COVID-19 is also having a negative impact on the employment, economic and social situation of many households around the world, and on their ability to meet their needs, even the most basic ones. The economic crisis that the countries of the region are facing and the growing unemployment will be decisive in this regard, since apart from the pandemic, Latin America and the Caribbean reached an unemployment rate of 8.1% at the end of 2019, according to the International Labor Organization. And according to ECLAC projections, labor unemployment will rise to 11.5% in the same region, as a result of the contraction of economic activity by COVID-19.

Unemployment and the loss of purchasing power affect more severely migrant populations, since they are very often employed in the informal sector of the economy and have more precarious contractual working conditions, particularly women migrant workers. In the case of Latin America and the Caribbean, informal work engages around 50% of the total number of people employed. The increase in unemployment will impact the scope of Goal 8 (on full and productive employment and decent work for all), but also Goal 1 (the fight against poverty), Goal 2 (the eradication of hunger, food security and better nutrition), Goal 5 (gender equality and empowerment of women and girls), and targets 5.2, 8.7 and 16.2, on trafficking and exploitation of people. ECLAC also emphasizes that Latin America and the Caribbean is already suffering a fall of -5.3% in GDP, the worst in its history.

Likewise, this pandemic could accentuate existing inequalities in societies, as well as the vulnerabilities of certain population groups, and consequently delay the achievement of Goal 10, which seeks to reduce inequalities between and within countries. In this context, migrants are one of those vulnerable groups that have been particularly affected by the pandemic and that are often left behind or forgotten in social protection and economic relaunch plans, or have limited access to them, either because of language barriers or because of their immigration status. All of this despite the enormous contribution that migrant workers make to the operation of essential basic services in many countries, as has become evident during this crisis.

Additionally, a decrease in the amount of international remittances is projected, which, according to the World Bank, would be reduced between 10% and 19.3% by 2020. Remittances are a fundamental component in the economy of some countries in the region, where they can amount to between 5% and 20% of the national Gross Domestic Product. A significant reduction in remittances would jeopardize the ability of many households in those countries to meet their most basic needs and their ability to invest in improving nutrition, education, and reducing child labor, among others, further emphasizing existing inequalities.

Finally, at the state level, due to the economic slowdown we are experiencing and urgent health needs, it is very likely that there will be a decrease in social spending or a reorientation of available resources, potentially at the expense of the more comprehensive vision contained in the Sustainable Development Goals, again affecting the scope of the transversal objectives of the 2030 Agenda.


Recovery and SDGs: the same path

But this should not lead us to pessimism and to think that we have lost the fight to achieve the SDGs. On the contrary, it is essential at this time to work together and forcefully to identify the additional difficulties that the current pandemic presents in achieving the 2030 Agenda. We must redouble our commitment and our efforts to ensure that the impact of the pandemic is incorporated into national plans and international assistance, as well as that the different realities and vulnerabilities of some specific groups are incorporated.

For this we must work from now on to ensure the universal attention of the health and education systems; in reducing remittance transfer costs (a topic included in Goal 10), as El Salvador is already doing, creating more resilient and inclusive cities in line with Goal 11 or strengthening forms of regular migration for migrant workers and decent working conditions (Goal 8).

The time is now: all organizations, governments and individuals have an important role in ensuring that the efforts for our Latin American region and the world to recover from the serious effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are aligned with the 2030 Agenda and that we make sure we do not leave anyone behind.