Ecuador is organizing a meeting with the ministers from 13 countries in South and Central America to discuss the exceptionally high number of Venezuelans migrants escaping the economic crisis in their country, the Ecuadorian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
The countries invited to the event, which will be held Sept. 17 and 18, include Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Mexico, Peru, Paraguay, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
The goal is to “exchange opinions, to see what countries are doing in different aspects” in relation to the migration of Venezuelans, said Deputy Minister of Human Mobility, Santiago Chávez.
Since last weekend, Ecuador requires Venezuelans entering its territory to show a passport. The measure excludes minors whose parents carry the document.
Following in the footsteps of Ecuador, Peru will also require a passport, which is difficult to obtain in Venezuela due to the deep crisis that has led to the shortage of food, medicine, and even paper.
Before the measure, the Venezuelans only had to show their ID to move among the Andean countries.
“All the processes that are taking place in America are important to establish the policies that are indispensable to deal with the issue of migration of Venezuelan citizens in the best and most responsible way,” Chávez added.
Colombia — where more than one million Venezuelans entered in 16 months — asked Ecuador and Peru on Tuesday to define a single policy for Venezuelans, after warning about the risk of an “irregular migration” on account of the passport requirement.
Bogotá fears that this new requirement will cause migrants to block up their borders.
The Ecuadorean Deputy Minister of Human Mobility said that with this measure his country is seeking an orderly migration.
“The worst thing that can happen to the country is that there is migratory chaos and that we do not know what happens with foreign citizens who enter,” Chávez said.
The UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) estimates that almost 550,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador since the beginning of this year. Most arrive by foot and in poor condition.
According to their calculations only 20 percent of those who arrive, stay on Ecuadorean ground. The others continue to Peru and Chile.