Nearly 20,000 Venezuelans have emigrated to the small Caribbean island nation of the Dominican Republic amid the country’s worsening economic, political, and humanitarian crisis, Dominican officials have revealed.
The Dominican Republic’s Minister of the Interior Carlos Amarante Baret claimed that the figure is constantly fluctuating as Venezuelans continue to enter and leave the country.
Under current rules, Venezuelans can travel to the Dominican Republic without obtaining a visa and are granted a two-month stay permit upon arrival. However, many Venezuelans are now overstaying their permit in fear of going back to their home country, which has seen skyrocketing levels of inflation and chronic shortages of basic resources, including food, medicine, electricity, and sanitary products.
Many have also fled in fear of political persecution, as the socialist dictatorship of Nicolás Maduro continues its crack down on dissidents following the creation of a fraudulent lawmaking body known as the “national constituents assembly,” filled almost exclusively with pro-government stooges.
Consequently, many Venezuelans can now be seen on the streets of the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo selling traditional Venezuelan food or offering other services such as cleaning or manual labor. Meanwhile, many women have turned to prostitution.
As a result, the Association of Venezuelans in the Dominican Republic pleaded with the government to grant improved migratory facilities to Venezuelan immigrants. Baret has rejected the request on grounds that their presence is illegal.
“We have a migratory system regulated by Law 285-40, and therefore, everyone, no matter where they come from, must abide by the law,” he said.
In recent years, the Dominican Republic, which has a population of approximately ten million, has also struggled with increased flows of Haitian migrants due to the country’s severely weakened economy, leading to increased tensions between local communities. As a result, Dominican authorities changed the country’s citizenship rules to enact the deportation of hundreds of thousands of Haitians.
Yet last month, the Dominican government granted a one-year extension to the residency permits of around 230,000 Haitian migrants, providing a temporary solution to an issue that has damaged relations between the neighboring countries.
Meanwhile, emigration from Venezuela has reached unprecedented levels as thousands of people cross into Colombian alongside the country’s eastern border. In recent months, tens of thousands of Venezuelans have crossed into Colombia, with up to 30,000 people crossing in one day.