Things That Matter

As Venezuelan Migrants Flee To Nearby Colombia, A Tech Startup With Japanese Investment Has Become Their Lifeline

More than 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled their country in the past few years amid a collapsing economy and political turmoil. Many have migrated to nearby Colombia where more than 1.2 million Venezuelans are now living and those numbers could balloon to 2 million by this year’s end. This has created new challenges as well as growth, particularly when it comes to Rappi, the country’s tech-driven delivery service.

The delivery service, Rappi, has seen rapid growth in the last year, mainly propelled by Venezuelan migrants looking to get by.

The app, which was founded in Colombia in 2015, has a simple purpose to that of American delivery services like Postmates, deliver goods to people from wherever they want. An injection of $1 billion from Japan’s SoftBank helped establish the South American tech startup as a viable business.

Rappi is now operating in seven countries, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay and more than 40 major cities in Latin America. It also has more than 100,000 people that deliver for the service and has become one of Columbia’s fastest growing startups.

The company can credit the rising number of Venezuelan migrants that have begun delivering for the service as a way to make ends meet. Many of them have been shut out of the traditional job market and can make about $23 dollars a day, roughly three times Colombia’s minimum wage.

Amid a failing economy and political turmoil, Venezuelans have the delivery service as a lifeline.

While Venezuela faces hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages, many are left with little to no choice but to leave their country. As these large number of migrants have relocated to Columbia, the first thing they do is seek jobs.

Migrants receive a temporary work permit, known as the PEP (Politically Exposed Persons). But that permit has come with a label. Wilander Jiménez, a 28-year-old from the city of Lara in Venezuela, has struggled to find work even with this permit. He arrived in Colombia almost a year ago and Rappi has become a primary source of income for him.

“People won’t hire you here if you’re Venezuelan, even if you have the PEP,” Jiménez told the Miami Herald. “So Rappi has become a solution for many of us.”

The company has acknowledged what their service has meant to many Venezuelans looking for opportunities.

Credit: rappicolombia / Instagram

Sebastián Mejía, Simon Borrero and Felipe Villamarin are all co-founders of Rappi. They’ve noticed the rise in Venezuelans that have taken up their delivery service as a safety net for cash and to get by during hard times.

“From day zero at Rappi we’ve always had a social mission,” Mejía told the Miami Herald. “So we are very excited that Rappi has not only become a source of income for vulnerable communities — like Venezuelan migrants, who are the face of a dramatic humanitarian crisis — but has also given them the ability to send money home.”

The company says it doesn’t know exactly how many Venezuelans work for Rappi because of its rapid growth. In 2018, the service had 20,000 deliverymen, according to media reports, that number has grown to four times as many.

While Rappi has created a stop-gap for some Venezuelans, many realize it’s filling a temporary need during their hard times.

Credit: rappicolombia / Instagram

Beyond just Columbia, many Venezuelans have relocated to other places in Latin America like Peru, Argentina, and Chile.

As hard times continue to hit Venezuela the number of people searching for new opportunities elsewhere is likely to continue. This includes Jiménez, who was a former policeman back in Venezuela. He acknowledges he’ll never get rich delivering for Rappi but it helps him get by for now.

“All of us want to go home some day when things improve there,” Jiménez said. “But this is one of the few opportunities we have now to survive…Rappi is growing because of us Venezuelans.”

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

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Venezuelan Rising Star Carmen DeLeon Talks Break-Up Inspired “Pasado” and How Her Abuelos Inspired “Cafecito”

Latidomusic

Venezuelan Rising Star Carmen DeLeon Talks Break-Up Inspired “Pasado” and How Her Abuelos Inspired “Cafecito”

Carmen De Leon is a rising star hailing from Caracas, Venezuela. The 20-year-old singer moved to Tampa, Florida when she was 10 years old and then two years later moved with her family to Barcelona, Spain and lived there for six years. While in Spain, Carmen found success participating in La Voz, and started to build a following that would tune in every week to see her perform. Then she lived in Mexico for a year, Los Angeles for another year and is now settled in Miami working on her music career.

In an exclusive interview with Latido Music by mitú, Carmen De Leon talked to us about her latest single “Pasado” with Cali y El Dandee, from which she drew inspiration from her very own break-up and reminiscing about the past. We also touched on “Cafecito“, the bittersweet song in memory of her grandparents, her dream collab, and more.

Pasado” is inspired by Carmen De Leon’s real-life breakup.

Carmen recruited Colombian singers Cali y El Dandee for her latest single “Pasado,” blending 80s synthpop with reggaeton, a true popetón hit you can dance to and perhaps cry to.

On working with Cali y El Dandee, Carmen has nothing but praise for the Colombian duo, “they are like my brothers, they’re insanely talented, genuine and humble.”

It was Dandee who actually wanted her to let her feelings all out for the song.

“At that moment while I was writing the song, I was actually breaking up with my boyfriend, and I had Mauricio (Dandee) saying to me: ‘Just tell me more. Whatever you’re texting him, say it out loud so we have the right words for the song’ and that’s what we did,” Carmen says.

Just like the lyrics of the song long about the past, so did the music video which was purposely made in the film to capture the “old vibe” they were seeking to portray.

Carmen feels like this is the best song that she has made in her entire life. “It’s changed my life in a way because it’s opened me up to new audiences and I love seeing people react to it and relate to it.”

Earlier this year, Carmen released “Cafecito” which isn’t about your beloved morning beverage.

Most of us would read the title “Cafecito” and think it’s just an upbeat morning pick-me-up song, but it isn’t. “Cafecito” is a bittersweet single that Carmen says she wrote, “at 4 a.m. in the middle of a hurricane because I missed my grandparents so much, and I wanted to write about what it feels like to lose someone.”

While her abuelitos were the main inspiration behind the lyrics, the song does capture the feeling of loss that could apply to those of us losing a friendship, relationship, etc.

Before I even finish the question about her dream collaboration, Carmen excitedly yelled “Camilo!,” which also happens to be one of her favorite covers she’s posted on her YouTube channel.

Carmen’s dad chimed in the interview as well to plug in his favorite cover, which is “Graveyard” by Halsey.

We can only hope that Carmen DeLeon and Camilo collab happens and that this article serves as manifestation for it.

Good luck with everything, Carmen!

READ: Mon Laferte Talks Regional Mexican Album ‘Seis’ and Singing With Gloria Trevi

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9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Things That Matter

9-Year-Old Migrant Girl Drowns While Trying to Cross the Rio Grande in the U.S.

Photo via Getty Images

On March 20th, U.S. Border Patrol agents found a 9-year-old migrant girl unresponsive along with her mother and sibling on an island in the Rio Grande.

U.S. Border Patrol agents attempted to resuscitate the family. The agents were able to revive the mother and her younger, 3-year-old child. The Border Patrol agents transferred the 9-year-old migrant girl to emergency medics in emergency medics in Eagle Pass, Texas, but she remained unresponsive.

In the end, the 9-year-old migrant girl died–the cause of death being drowning.

The mother of the two children was Guatemalan while the two children were born in Mexico.

The death of the 9-year-old migrant girl is notable because this is the first migrant child death recorded in this current migration surge. And experts worry that it won’t be the last.

And while this is the first child death, it is not the only migrant who has died trying to make it across the border. On Wednesday, a Cuban man drowned while trying to swim across the border between Tijuana and San Diego. He was the second migrant to drown in just a two-week period.

Why is this happening?

According to some reports, the reason so many migrants are heading towards the U.S. right now is “because President Trump is gone”. They believe they have a better chance of claiming asylum in the U.S.

Another factor to take into consideration is that a large number of these migrants are unaccompanied minors. According to migrant services volunteer Ruben Garcia, Title 42 is actually having the opposite effect of its intent. President Trump enacted Title 42 to prevent immigration during COVID-19 for “safety reasons”.

“Families that have been expelled multiple times that are traveling with children,” Garcia told PBS News Hour. “Some of them are making the decision to send their children in by themselves, because they have families someplace in the U.S., and they know their children will be released to them.”

Is there a “border crisis”?

That depends on who you ask. According to some experts, the numbers of migrants heading to the U.S./Mexico border aren’t out-of-the-ordinary considering the time of year and the fact that COVID-19 made traveling last year virtually impossible.

According to Tom Wong of the University of California at San Diego’s U.S. Immigration Policy Center, there is no “border crisis”. “This year looks like the usual seasonal increase, plus migrants who would have come last year but could not,” Wong says.

As the Washington Post explained: “What we’re seeing right now is a predictable seasonal shift. When the numbers drop again in June and July, policymakers may be tempted to claim that their deterrence policies succeeded.”

What is the Biden Administration planning on doing about it?

As of now, it is pretty evident that the Biden Administration has not been handling this migrant surge well, despite ample warning from experts. As of now, President Biden has put Vice President Harris in charge of handling the issues at the border.

As of now, the game plan is still very vague. But in the past, the Biden Administration has stated that they plan to fix the migrant surge at the source. That means providing more aid to Central America in order to prevent further corruption of elected officials.

They also want to put in place a plan that processes children and minors as refugees in their own countries before they travel to the U.S. The government had not tested these plans and they may take years to implement. Here’s to hoping that these changes will prevent a case like the death of the 9-year-old migrant girl.

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