VENEZUELA: The Tragic Tales of Three Venezuelan Migrant Children – Caracas Chronicles

These tragedies in Trinidad, Chile and the U.S. sadden us, but should also motivate us to continue demanding safe, orderly and regular pathways for Venezuelan migrants 

Betilde Muñoz-Pogossian | Caracas Chronicles

On February 5th, 2022, an awful tragedy happened. A Venezuelan baby was killed in his mother’s arms when the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard fired at the boat carrying a group of Venezuelan migrants.

We know that at least three Venezuelan kids have died migrating to another country so far this year.           

In mid-January, a Venezuelan mom with her young daughter Victoria tried to irregularly cross the U.S.-Mexico border. Probably with the hope of giving her daughter a better future in the U.S., the mom started the journey from the Mexican town of Acuña with a group of migrants and their coyotes – or intermediaries who move migrants through borders and “speed up” paperwork or legal obstacles.  However, their future tragically changed when they decided to cross the Rio Grande and the girl fell into a hole and drowned. The better option, without a doubt, was crossing regularly. However, with no legal pathways to do it, they had no choice but to risk their lives. And this could have been the story of over 100,000 Venezuelans and their kids who irregularly crossed the U.S.-Mexico border in 2021.

Keiler Eduardo was another Venezuelan migrant child who had a tragic end. He died on the bus heading to Chile with his mother and four-month-old brother from Venezuela. He had already crossed 3,000 kilometers through the winding Andean roads of Venezuela, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, and still had another 2,400 kilometers of Bolivian and Chilean highways to reach his new home when he was found dead. They ruled he had died of “natural causes” but surely the reduction in atmospheric pressure and lower oxygen levels at such altitudes, unfamiliar to Venezuelans, may have been the cause.

The most recent one was that of the young baby who died when the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard fired at a boat carrying a group of Venezuelan migrants. We understand that each sovereign country has the right to enforce regular migration on its borders. But there’s a higher principle and aspiration that should inform those border control responses: The protection of those migrants and refugees’ human rights. Fortunately, it’s been announced that an investigation is already underway to understand what happened, and what can be done better or differently. But in the meantime, let’s not forget that child, and that family. Let that tragedy serve, at least, to have a different conversation about how to ensure those pathways for entry and permanence by Venezuelans in receiving countries become more consistent with international human rights law and humanitarian considerations. Especially because Venezuelans often migrate because they have no choice.

So, rivers, altitude, sea, jungles, and bullets keep putting Venezuelan migrant children’s lives at risk. 

And by the way, there may be many other Venezuelan migrant kids we don’t hear about: Others who have died anonymously, those who have fallen at the hands of human trafficking networks, those who are sexually exploited, as well as their moms, throughout their journey… 

We have a responsibility to do all we can to prevent more deaths and to raise the bar in terms of how governments in the region are responding to the influx of Venezuelan migrants and refugees to their countries.

No one denies their right to sovereignly ensure an orderly migration; but no one can refuse their responsibility to protect the rights of this population. BOTH are legitimate claims, but I think we can do better at reconciling both. 

The Deceased Children: Yaelvis Santoyo, Victoria Lugo, Keiler Eduardo Vargas – RIP 

Let us not forget them. Prohibido olvidar. [Lest We Forget] 

* Opinions are personal. They do not represent those of the Organization of American States.

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  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/13/2022 at 7:17 pm

    Pestano wrote:

    This is really sad for those innocent children, but I maybe wrong, but the adults who vote for these oppressive Governments are just as guilty for what is happening in their country, I have seen this happen in Guyana, the people were suffering and they continue to support the Burnham Government.The children is who paid the price for the adults choice of Government.

  • Clyde Duncan  On 02/13/2022 at 7:22 pm

    Eddie wrote:

    Why just Venezuelan migrant children? There are worse cases of children from Afrika and around the developing world whose plight and condition are turned a blind eye to. No other nation’s children on Earth have experienced more suffering than that of our people’s children. I have no time for selective sentimentality.

    As a matter of fact, these same suffering children will one day become empowered to be administrators of Venezuela and would pursue the same innocuous claims against Guyana and Guyana’s children.

    Is it not the same as the slave owners children to us? The divine law of Reciprocity always act in the best interests of the good. We must learn how to recognise it as a Prudent Judge.

    • fgsjr2015  On 02/13/2022 at 8:04 pm

      It is extremely sad that such a large number of human beings, however precious their souls, can seemingly be considered thus treated as though disposable, even to an otherwise free, democratic and relatively civilized nations. It is also like their suffering is somehow less worthy of our concern. And when they take note of this, tragically, they’re vulnerable to begin subconsciously perceiving themselves as inferior beings without value.

      Such inhuman(e) perception of devaluation reminds me of a similar external perception of disposability towards the daily civilian lives lost in protractedly devastating war zones and famine-stricken nations. The worth of such life will be measured by its overabundance and/or the protracted conditions under which it suffers. They can eventually receive meagre column inches on the back page in the First World’s daily news.

    • Dennis Albert  On 02/13/2022 at 8:37 pm

      So we should let the Venezuelan children, who could have African DNA in them, to die because we want Guyana to be pillaged by the Chinese, Su Su and the American oil companies?

  • fgsjr2015  On 02/13/2022 at 7:44 pm

    While many Westerners believe that such refugees become permanent burdens on their new host/home nation, I’ve found they actually want to work hard. … Here in southwestern B.C., I’ve noticed over decades the exceptionally strong work ethic practiced by migrants, especially in the produce harvesting sector. It’s typically back-busting work that almost all post-second-generation Westerners won’t tolerate for ourselves.

    While I don’t support domestic businesses exporting labor abroad at very low wages if there are unemployed nationals who want that work, I can imagine immigrants and migrant laborers being more productive than their born-and-reared-here counterparts. I’m not saying that a strong work ethic is a trait racially/genetically inherited by one generation from a preceding generation. Rather, I believe, it is an admirable culturally determined factor, though also in large part motivated by the said culture’s internal and surrounding economic and political conditions.

    Also, often overlooked is that many migrants are leaving global-warming-related chronic crop failures in the southern hemisphere widely believed to be related to the northern hemisphere’s chronic fossil-fuel burning, beginning with the Industrial Revolution. While some global refugee situations may not be climate-change related, many land- and water-based border-guard confrontations increasingly in the news are nonetheless scary — and even unbecoming of Western self-professed Christian nations. (Jesus must be spinning in heaven.) It’s as though the migrants are considered disposable life thus their suffering somehow being less-worthy.

  • Dennis Albert  On 02/13/2022 at 8:38 pm

    The elitist Caribbean countries would NEVER wish death upon Guyanese children who are living illegally.

    It’s sickening what this oil is doing to fellow Guyanese. They want Venezuelan children to die.

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