Things That Matter

Colombians Are Starting To Turn On Venezuelan Refugees In Their Country And Here’s Why

Colombia and Venezuela have long had a close relationship in terms of culture, financial cooperation and migratory patterns. The recent years of economic struggle in Venezuela, product of the Chavista policies instituted by both the late Hugo Chavez and incumbent president Nicolas Maduro, added to US economic sanctions, have triggered a mass migration towards Colombia and other neighboring countries. Added to escalating prices for even the most basic commodities, shortage in basic services such as water, gas and electricity, and what international bodies have deemed as State repression, Venezuelans, particularly in the capital city of Caracas, have had to survive on criminal activity that does not only target the rich, but also those most vulnerable. 

It is estimated that as many as a million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years. This is a massive number if we consider that the overall population of the country is roughly 31 million. While some of the richest Venezuelans have migrated to cities such as Miami and Tampa in the United States, or countries like Australia and Canada, economic migrants and refugees have looked at the neighboring Colombia as a new home. While most Colombians have been accommodating, understanding that forced exile is born out of need and not wickedness, there is an increasing number who is feeling frustrated with the current situation and are blaming Venezuelan migrants for it. Remember, when things go wrong human beings tend to blame those who are different. 

The protests in Colombia highlighted the social and economic problems being faced by the country.

Credit: Al Jazeera Latin America

The recent wave of protests in Colombia, particularly in the capital city of Bogota, have put the spotlight on the socioeconomic differences that have made society increasingly polarized. The crackdown on unions, students and activists has also brought attention to the increasingly repressive methods of the Ivan Duque presidency.

Added to this, violence against vulnerable groups is increasing, as reported by Al Jazeera: “Tension has been simmering for months amid discontent over inequality, education and Duque’s slow implementation of a 2016 peace deal, which was signed between the previous government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) and brought an end to 50 years of fighting. More than 750 indigenous leaders and human rights activists have been killed in Colombia over the past two years, according to local think-tank INDEPAZ.”

The current climate is ripe for a conflict that could last for years if all the involved parties fail to reach even the most basic of agreements. Frustration is running high. And we know that frustration is usually a trigger for discrimination.

So some people are blaming the increased influx of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

In a recent article published by Reuters, a side effect of the conflicted political climate in Colombia was brought to attention: the growing discrimination against Venezuelan migrants.

In the article, a young Venezuelan called Daniels Herrera told journalist Steven Grattan how he and other migrants have heard people blame Venezuelans for the Colombia’s troubles, claiming that it is Venezuelans who run the country. This has made Herrera and others like him feel unsafe even if coming from Caracas, by all accounts one of the most dangerous cities in the world. They have decided to remain silent, speak as little as possible so their accent won’t give them away.

This basically leads to situations such as the one that African and Middle Eastern refugees are living in Europe, where xenophobia is high and a cruel reminder of the division that led unspeakable atrocities during the Second World War.  

Discrimination is a quick slippery slope.

The Reuters article explains that the looting and vandalism that has been triggered by the protests is now being blamed on Venezuelan migrants, which of course has gotten the most conservative members of Colombian society all riled up. They have been quick to point fingers, as Reuters argues: “Non-governmental organizations and researchers say rumors blaming Venezuelan migrants for isolated looting and vandalism connected to the protests have caused a sharp rise in xenophobia over the last 10 days. Posts on social media and messages forwarded on messaging application WhatsApp – many mentioning Venezuelans – stoked panic among Bogota residents on the night of the curfew, as the city’s emergency line was inundated with calls reporting residential break-ins that police say never happened.”

Discrimination and panic are fires that are hard to put out once they start burning. Now Venezuelans are fearful that they will become the scapegoats for whatever goes wrong in Colombia. Discrimination starts on the street level, as part of everyday talk, but can very rapidly become instituted in policies that result in unfair judicial processes and policing that singles out individuals due to their accent or physical appearance. Does this sound familiar to those Latinos living in the United States, where Brown and Black folk are often targeted by the authorities? 

Latinas Are Forcing Themselves To Examine How They Are Showing Up For The Black Community

Fierce

Latinas Are Forcing Themselves To Examine How They Are Showing Up For The Black Community

Eze Amos / Getty

Months have passed since the deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd but members of the Black community continue to fight against police brutality. While news reports of protests might have slowed down, it’s important to know that showing up for Black people has so much power.

Recently, we asked Latinas “How are we showing up for our Black brothers and sisters?” and the answers were pretty humbling.

Recognize the relative privileges we have

“This week has been so, so heavy, but we need to ask ourselves how we are showing up for the Black community outside of the weeks when headlines are grim and cities are on fire. How are we showing up for Black people in our everyday lives? 365 days a year? I am speaking specifically to my community here: [Non-Black] Latinxs, we have so far to go when it comes to protecting the dignity of our own people, I know. I know our people are also hurting. But we HAVE to recognize the relative privileges we have and the ways in which the Black community’s freedom is directly tied to our own. We all deserve dignity. We all deserve the ability to move through the world without fearing for our lives. Some of us haven’t ever had to worry about that—so what are we doing to help those who do worry for their safety and the safety of loved ones every single day? Please pay attention. Please speak out and hold the people in your life accountable. We are ALL responsible. We all need to be doing more—no matter our race or ethnicity. Please, let’s take care of each other.” – @ludileiva

Show up to protests

“Showing up to local peaceful protests and talking to my family and friends about how we need to stand together. It is my hope our black brothers and sisters will stand with us when we have to face our government on DACA and caged children.” – lil_yo11

Donate and give

“Definitely by donating, signing petitions, educating others on issues like this that affect the black community, posting about it, and speaking out when it happens. Our voices and actions definitely need to be heard during this time.”- belleza_xoxo

Continue to fight

“Many of us ARE. And we need to do even MORE. This hurts me because although there is colorism out there, there are also respectful and supporting people who want to do more and more. I hope more people saw that too. Anyways, my family and I will continue fighting strong for this movement. Because BLACK LIVES MATTER. THEY SURELY DO.” – mid.nicole

Hold others accountable

“By holding people accountable. By talking about privilege even if it makes people uncomfortable! Becoming part of the conversation because if you don’t and look the other way you are part of the problem. Make people uncomfortable! Make people realize that our system needs to be redone so justice can be served for our fallen brothers. Being black, being of color shouldn’t be a death sentence.” – koayafilm

Connect with others

“We are each other’s hope 🙏🏽 sharing on your story is great, but never forget the power of human connection. talk to people, have these conversations & hear the pain, empathy & hope in our voices.”- raquelmariaquintana

Educate ourselves and our families

“We show solidarity! There’s still so much racism within our own Latino community over darker skin color. I know because my abuela was Afro Latina.Things need to change. We need to educate our own families about racism. We need to sign petitions, donating, having conversations. I see many people quiet about what’s going on.” – angieusc7

Keep certain words out of your mouth

“Well we could start by abolishing the expressions “negro” y “negra” as a form of endearment to call for someone of dark complexion. I know some will say it’s a form of endearment, but it just degrades the person called upon by only identifying them by their skin colour. You are calling them by their complexion and therefore reducing a whole persons existence and achievements by the colour of their skin.” –christian.aaby

Hold your family accountable

“We have to stand up for each other especially during these times. I’m confronting my own family members who are getting away from the truth. We have to stand up for what we believe not speak negatively about what the reactions are.” – jenmarasc

Create posters for protests

“Creating posters to take to my local police department this Sunday to protest. Signed petition, called the DA, sent cards to the mayor and DA in support of their efforts and demanding criminalization!!! We need to speak louder. Getting involved in my community to provide breath work and yoga to the black community I live in!!” – mexicanameg

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Culture

People Have A Lot Of Opinions About The Argentina Episode Of Netflix’s ‘Street Food: Latin America’

Manuel Velasquez / Getty Images

Netflix has a new food show out and it has everyone buzzing. “Street Food: Latin America” is bringing everyone the sabor of Latin America to their living room. However, reviews are mixed because of Argentina and the lack of Central American representation.

Netflix has a new show and it is all about Latin American street food.

Some of the best food in the world comes from Latin America. That is just a fact and it isn’t because our families and community come for Latin America. Okay, maybe just a little. The food of Latin America comes with history and stories that have shaped our childhood. For many of us, it is the only thing we have that connects us to the lands our families have left.

The show is highlighting the contributions of women to street food.

“Street Food: Latin America” focuses mainly on the women that are leading the street food cultures in different countries in Latin America. For some of them, it was a chance to bring themselves out of poverty and care for their children. For others, it was a rebellion against the male-dominated culture of cooking in Latin America.

However, some people have some strong opinions about the show and they aren’t good.

There is a lot of attention to native communities in the Latino community culturally right now. The Argentina episode where someone claims that Argentina is more European is rubbing people the wrong way right now. While the native population of Argentina is small, it is still important to highlight and honor native communities who are indigenous to the lands.

The disregard for the indigenous community is upsetting because indigenous Argentinians are fighting for their lives and land.

An A Jazeera report focused on an indigenous community in northern Argentina who were fighting to protect their land. After decades of discrimination and humiliation, members of the Wichi community fought to protect their land from the Argentinian government grabbing it in 2017. Early this year, before Covid, children of the tribe started to die at alarming rates of malnutrition.

Another pain point in the Latino community is the complete disregard of Central America.

Central America includes Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Belize, and Panama. Central America’s exclusion is not sitting right with Netflix users with Central American heritage. Like, how can five whole countries be looked over during a Netflix show about street food in Latin America?

Seems like there is a chance for Netflix to revisit Latin America for more food content.

There are so many countries in Latin America that offer delicious foods to the world. There is more to Latin America than Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, and Bolivia.

READ: This Iconic Mexican Food Won The Twitter Battle To Be Named Latin America’s Best Street Food