Millions of people have fled extreme starvation and economic deprivation in Venezuela since 2014, leaving neighboring countries scrambling to respond to large flows of refugees crossing their borders. Venezuelans are fleeing to numerous countries, but Peru, Colombia and Brazil host the most Venezuelans in the region. Latin America has experienced a progressive paradigm shift in refugee policy in the past 20 years, emphasizing a rights-based approach to immigration rather than deterrence. The crisis in Venezuela is the first time these policies are being tested on a large scale. Venezuelans are not considered refugees in the eyes of the global refugee regime, which defines a refugee as someone who has been individually persecuted by the state. The 1984 Cartagena Declaration expanded this narrow definition, encompassing a broader category of forced migrants, including Venezuelans, who are still deserving of asylum. The purpose of this project is to analyze how this progressive framework of protection in Latin America plays out in the face of a major migration crisis, and whether the refugee regime established in the Cartagena Declaration is succeeding in protecting Venezuelans in neighboring countries. This work contributes to the overall literature regarding refugee protection, as well as the effectiveness of alternative policies in refugee protection. It is a critical case study to assess the practical application of the policy, and a within-case analysis to assess potential variation between the three countries and the forces driving those differences. The conclusion is that these policies were effective at first, but they are unsustainable. Although there are important variations in how each country has handled Venezuelan refugees, they all have had similar outcomes over time, and are beginning to move towards a more deterrence-based paradigm as the influx grows.

Additional Abstract Information

Student(s): Isabelle Hoagland

Department: Justice Studies

Faculty Advisor: Dr. Daniel Beers

Type: Oral

Year: 2019

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