Georgetown University hosts panel for Venezuelan migrants (includes video story)

An unprecedented humanitarian crisis has caused over 7.1 million Venezuelans to flee their country. A group of panelists at Georgetown University gathered Monday to discuss their personal experiences as migrants outside their homeland.

“The largest exodus ever seen in the Americas.” That’s how panelists referred to the recent Venezuelan migration at the event hosted by the Migration and Refugee Policy Initiative. David Smolansky, says there are several factors that motivate Venezuelans to keep risking their lives when crossing the border.

“There are five main reasons why Venezuelans are fleeing,” he said. “First of all, it’s the humanitarian crisis. One out of three Venezuelans cannot eat three times a day. The second is the lack of medicine. Then there’s the collapse of the public service, and this is something that has gotten worse since 2019. Then you have the collapse of the economy. And last but not least, it’s the human rights violations.” 

According to data from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, more than 150,000 Venezuelans crossed the southern border last year.

“Venezuelans are forced to leave. And we need to stop that,” said Rafael Alfonso, a graduate student at Georgetown’s Walsh School of Foreign Service. “And the only way to stop that is to stop the Maduro regime.”

Panelists also invited guests to work with Humanitarian Crisis, a non-profit dedicated to helping Venezuelan migrants and refugees.

Claudia Morales is a junior FIU student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Digital Communications/Broadcasting. She obtained an associates degree in Mass Communications/Journalism from Miami Dade College. She served as a photographer for The Reporter, the student newspaper at Miami Dade College. She also studied abroad in France and Italy, where she acquired knowledge about globalized media.