The Venezuelan displacement crisis in the Caribbean has gone largely unreported as the number of Venezuelans who have sought safety in the region is comparatively less in overall numbers than in neighboring countries in South America. However, some Caribbean countries host a large number of Venezuelans per capita. And in the Caribbean, displaced Venezuelans are often afforded significantly fewer legal protections compared to those in South America.
Trinidad and Tobago, lying just seven miles off the coast of Venezuela, is a case in point, as tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled there to escape the political and economic crisis at home. Venezuelans on the island are not protected by any domestic refugee legislation and are subject to criminal penalties as a result. This means that Venezuelans live under the constant threat of detention and deportation without the ability to work legally or access education. Over several months, Refugees International conducted a coordinated and effective advocacy campaign to call for better policies on the twin-island nation.
Refugees International’s advocacy in coalition with others ultimately led the government of Trinidad and Tobago to create a new policy that allowed more than 16,500 Venezuelans to regularize their status and access legal employment.
Meanwhile, Venezuelans seeking refuge in the Dutch Caribbean island of Curaçao face similar deprivations. There are between 10,000–13,000 Venezuelans living on the island, but the country has no formal system to register asylum seekers. A Refugees International team traveled there and documented serious human rights violations, including the detention and deportation of Venezuelans, many of whom live in constant fear. Refugees International continues to bear witness and fight for better policies for displaced Venezuelans in the Caribbean.