Venezuela - migrants - Texas
Jesus Ramirez, a 29-year-old migrant, waves a Venezuelan flag as he arrives on US territory in Texas AFP / Paula RAMON

Venezuelans continue leaving their country amid a years-long social, political and economic crisis, with figures increasing during the first months of the year.

According to Mexican authorities, encounters of Venezuelan migrants increased more than 300% between

January and March. The total figure is close to 90,000 people, compared to a little over 21,000 in 2023. They already represent the largest nationality of all irregular interceptions by authorities in the North American country and a quarter of the total.

The increased numbers come at a time when Mexico is intensifying its crackdown on migrants heading to the United States, a policy pushed by the Joe Biden administration.

The Biden and López Obrador administrations have been increasing their coordination over the past month to stem the flow of people reaching the U.S., as the issue has become a political liability for Biden during the electoral year.

Both presidents spoke on the phone in late April and focused on "effectively managing" migration and "strengthening operational efficiency" on the countries' shared border.

Border crossings have substantially decreased over the past weeks, with many analysts crediting Mexican law enforcement for a key role in stemming the flows.

Border Patrol agents encountered over 137,000 people crossing the border unlawfully during March. Even though it was a slight dip compared to February's 141,000, the figure becomes more significant as seasonal trends pointed at a surge during the period.

Efforts by the AMLO administration have been aimed at keeping migrants closer to its southern border, which it shares with Guatemala. They include forcing people from trains and flying and busing them back south.

Venezuelans have been a primal target, with a recent report by AP highlighting that nationals are increasingly getting stuck in Mexico unable to continue their journey and with no perspective to do so in the near future. Some have even been flown to Venezuela.

In March, Mexico reached an agreement with Venezuela to deport migrants and with large companies operating in the country to employ others. Among the companies are brewers Empresas Polar and state oil firm PDVSA, as well as Mexican food company Bimbo and retailer FEMSA.

Mexico said it would also give about $110 a month over a six-month period to all Venezuelan migrants deported in an attempt to deter them from returning. The offer was also extended to Ecuadorians and Colombians.

However, a migrant speaking to EFE agency said the amount doesn't deter most people from taking the trip anywhere. "We are leaving because of our children's situation, for a better future. Since there is no work, we have to leave the country," Nirva Espitia told the outlet.

And the figures could increase even more depending on the results of the July presidential elections, with a poll from mid-April showing that that four in ten Venezuelans would consider leaving the country if Nicolás Maduro were to be reelected.

Moreover, 45% of respondents claimed they did not know what they would decide while should Maduro win and only 16% expressed their desire to stay in the country if such an outcome were to take place.

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