Lima, PeruYonaimer Godoy and his wife peered into his cracked telephone, their eyes stained with tears.

“What are you carrying out more than there?” Godoy’s father asked him by way of a video contact.


It was their son’s second birthday, and they have been stuck in a migrant shelter in Lima, Peru. They had left their house in Venezuela with a objective: earn sufficient dollars to assist their loved ones and at some point get them out of their collapsing nation.

But Peru, the second-most significant receiver of the additional than 4 million migrant and refugee exodus from Venezuela, had been challenging on them. With short-term tourist visas, they have been unable to come across the perform they have been browsing for. As an alternative, they have been forced to sell drinks on street corners for about seven dollars a day and mentioned they’ve faced a increasing wave of xenophobia.

Weeks earlier, a new barrier went up for the loved ones as Peru became a single of a increasing quantity of nations clamping down on Venezuelan migration, placing in spot new migratory regulations that make it not possible for most Venezuelans to enter consistently.

Peru - Venezuela [Megan Janetsky/Al Jazeera]

Venezuelan migrant Yonaimer Godoy shows a video of his two-year-old son in Venezuela that his father sent inside a migrant shelter in Lima, Peru [Megan Janetsky/Al Jazeera]

The two parents have been stuck on a single side of the continent and their two-year-old son was on the other inside their collapsing nation.

“I did not assume Peru would be like this,” Godoy mentioned, sitting in the corner of a refugee shelter with his wife. “This circumstance that we’re in ideal now, I did not assume it would occur to me.”

New restrictions

Till not too long ago, Latin American nations have been recognized as getting somewhat open receivers of the increasing wave of Venezuelan migrants and refugees fleeing the financial, political and humanitarian crises in their house nation. Documentation has been a single of the most significant struggles in the crisis mainly because it has turn out to be practically not possible to get fundamental documents like passports inside Venezuela. 

As a response, nations like Peru briefly permitted migrants to apply for a short-term residency permit (PTP) that granted them permission to conditionally reside and perform in the nation. Other individuals, like Colombia, accepted expired Venezuelan passports.

But given that a surge of migration starting close to the finish of 2018, regional nations have gradually introduced legal barriers for Venezuelans.

The most current round of these restrictions came in June when Peru’s President Marton Vizcarra introduced what he dubbed a “humanitarian visa”, requiring migrants to present not only a valid passport to enter the nation, but a list of other documentation. He mentioned the restrictions have been to boost the safety of Peruvian citizens. 

When the visa went into impact on June 15, frequent migration plummeted from its peak of 9,000 migrants getting into Peru each day to 450 folks a day. Couple of of these permitted to enter basically met the visa specifications, according to Federico Agusti, Peru representative of the UN refugee agency. Most of the 450 have been exceptions to the rule like folks with certified extreme healthcare circumstances and disabilities or pregnant girls. 

A week later, Chile implemented comparable restrictions, requiring migrants to have a passport and a residency visa in an work to reduce back on Venezuelans arriving with tourist visas. Hundreds of Venezuelan households have been left stranded in precarious circumstances on the Peru-Chile border for additional than a month. New restrictions are also anticipated to take impact in Ecuador later this month. 

“The reality is that quite a few folks have continued like this, with extremely deteriorated well being and desperate circumstances,” Agusti mentioned.


At the identical time, Venezuelans have faced elevated xenophobic attacks and attitudes. Practically 75 % of Peruvians say they are opposed to Venezuelan migration, citing fears of elevated crime and migrants taking their jobs, according to a single poll by the Institute of Peruvian Research. 

Peruvian politicians have only fed into these fears, according to Luisa Feline Freier, a researcher at Lima’s Universidad del Pacifico. When Vizcarra announced the new visa, he stood in front of a plane for deported Venezuelan migrants with preceding criminal records and referred to them as “undesirable components”.

“It was just a incredibly populist act,” she mentioned, “And that shows a small bit of what this is about.” 

Rights groups worry additional restrictions will be place in spot, forcing Venezuelans “into the shadows”, generating an currently vulnerable population additional vulnerable.

“If the governments call for these visas, if the governments call for these documents, folks attempting to access their territory will go by way of illegal suggests, which means that they will be at danger of traffickers and smugglers,” mentioned Francisco Quintana, Andes director of the Center for Justice and International Law.

When they arrive in the nation, migrants devoid of formal documentation are typically taken benefit of by employers, offered lengthy hours of perform for fractions of the costs they would commonly get paid, if they get paid at all.

That was the case for Juan Miguel Aluarez, a 22-year-old from Barquisimeto who arrived in Peru in July just after the new visa was place in spot.

Faced with an unbearable monetary circumstance, Aluarez dropped out of university in Venezuela, and fled across the continent alone to meet his brother in Peru. He wanted to come across a job and send dollars house to his mother.

I hope that a single day I can get great perform, I can finish my research, I can get my passport, I can get a visa, that I will have all my papers fixed. But I am scared that I will be forced to return to Venezuela devoid of something.

Juan Miguel Aluarez, Venezuelan migrant

Without the need of any dollars or a passport, he spent months walking, hitch-hiking and sleeping on the streets in Colombia and Ecuador. When he arrived on the Ecuador-Peru border, he mentioned migration officials denied him refugee status and entrance to the nation.

“I did not want to arrive illegally, I told them,” Aluarez recalled. “I cried, I told them I came to perform, that I did not have loved ones in any portion of this nation (Ecuador). I told them I wanted to perform so I could send my mom dollars, but no. Absolutely nothing.”

He was forced to sneak across the border amongst official ports of entry and climb into a automobile on the other side in order to reunite with his brother in his house close to the border. But when he arrived, Aluarez located that his brother did not have the dollars or space to help him. Aluarez hitch-hiked his way to Lima, a spot exactly where he believed he could come across perform and a way to legalise his status in the nation. 

He located himself in a comparable position to Godoy, the migrant separated from his son: devoid of perform, devoid of papers and devoid of rights.

“I hope that a single day I can get great perform, I can finish my research, I can get my passport, I can get a visa, that I will have all my papers fixed,” Aluarez mentioned. “But I am scared that I will be forced to return to Venezuela devoid of something.”

The two migrants hope they can get some sort of legal status in the nation, and that Godoy, by way of that, can bring his son to Peru, but their capability to do that will probably only diminish with time.

If nothing at all modifications, the Venezuelan migration crisis is anticipated to attain eight million folks by the finish of 2020, becoming the most significant human migration the planet, pushing currently strained getting nations to a breaking point as they struggle to give fundamental help. Francisco mentioned with the anticipated development, these migration restrictions are only set to develop.

Peru - Venezuela [Megan Janetsky/Al Jazeera]

Venezuelan migrants Yonaimer Godoy and Mail Levea cry as they flip by way of pictures of their two-year-old son in Venezuela on his birthday from a refugee shelter in Lima, Peru [Megan Janetsky/Al Jazeera] 

Back in the shelter, Godoy mentioned he feels stuck and that the Lima he painted in his head although in Venezuela is not the a single he located when he arrived. He hopes for perform and a superior future for his loved ones, but his face is heavy as he flicks by way of pictures of his toddler surrounded by his dad and other loved ones members.

“It really is not straightforward,” Godoy mentioned, his eyes wet, “To know that you cannot bring them to appear [at these photos] and know you cannot be with your loved ones.”

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