ColombiaOne.comColombia newsColombia Registers First Decrease in Venezuelan Population in Ten Years

Colombia Registers First Decrease in Venezuelan Population in Ten Years


Colombia venezuelan population
Colombia registers first decrease in Venezuelan population in ten years – Credit: Ministry of Health

For the first time in ten years, Colombia has witnessed a decrease in its Venezuelan population. A representative from Migration Colombia revealed this trend on Tuesday, stating that the number of Venezuelans in Colombia began to decline after reaching its highest point in December 2022. The announcement came during a meeting of the Special Commission for the Restoration of Relations with Venezuela, which took place in the Colombian Congress.

The general director of Migration Colombia, Fernando Garcia, indicated that since the beginning of 2023, a decrease has been evidenced month by month, which is added to those who have managed to legalize their stay in the country. According to Garcia, this is thanks to the reestablishment of relations between the two countries, promoted by President Gustavo Petro a year ago.

Colombia and the reception of economic migrants

The political and social crisis in Venezuela, worsened by long-standing international economic sanctions, has led to a large number of Venezuelans leaving their country. Colombia, being a neighboring country, has become the primary destination for these migrants. It is believed that around three million Venezuelans now live in Colombia. Many are there without proper legal status, even though Colombia’s President Ivan Duque (2018-2022) introduced emergency measures to help Venezuelans legalize their status in the country.

“During the period between 2022 and 2023, a reduction of 1.10% was recorded, equivalent to 32,000 people. This decline, the first in a decade, reflects the results of the policy of resumption of relations implemented between Colombia and Venezuela, and other relevant phenomena,” said Fernando Garcia, head of the Colombian migration service.

García explained that “since the opening of relations, passage has been controlled at the Simon Bolivar Bridge and at the Migratory Control Posts in Atanasio Girardot, Francisco de Paula Santander, Puente Union, Paraguachon, Puerto Carreño, Jose Antonio Paez and Inírida. In addition, a Verification Post has been established in Tibu, an area of vital importance on the border between Colombia and Venezuela”.

The challenge of integrating Venezuelans 

The regularized migrant population in Colombia, that is, individuals legally recognized by the government, saw a 3.4% increase in 2023, reaching 468,083 people. This rise is primarily attributed to the Colombian government’s response to the huge influx of Venezuelans, a regularization process now aiding about half a million people. This initiative ensures these migrants have legal status and access to fundamental services.

The process of making migrants’ status legal helps ensure they have fundamental rights and can also boost the host country’s economy and society by their inclusion in the workforce and the community. Yet, there are obstacles in making sure services and resources are enough to support the increasing number of migrants and in promoting unity and a sense of belonging between the local residents and the new arrivals.

The issue of Venezuelan migration remains a focal point of concern. Rising crime rates in various Colombian cities, including the capital, have sparked xenophobic attitudes and rejection among some locals, who blame Venezuelan migrants for the increase in criminal activities.

Police authorities have refuted claims linking the presence of Venezuelans to a rise in crime and insecurity in the country. While acknowledging that Venezuelans have been involved in criminal activities, they reject the idea that this contributes directly to higher crime rates.

Colombia venezuelan population
The presence of Venezuelans in Colombia is evident on the streets every day – Credit: AP / Colombia One

See all the latest news from Colombia and the world at Contact our newsroom to report an update or send your story, photos and videos. Follow Colombia One on Google News, Facebook, Instagram, and subscribe here to our newsletter.