Mexico, Venezuela restart repatriation flights amid pressure to curb soaring migration to US

Mexico, Venezuela restart repatriation flights amid pressure to curb soaring migration to US

Mexico, Venezuela restart repatriation flights amid pressure to curb soaring migration to US

Restarting flights for migrants from Venezuela to their home country, Mexico and Venezuela announced on Saturday. This is the latest action taken by neighbouring nations to accommodate the influx of individuals heading north to the United States.

The action was taken in response to reports from authorities that at least 10,000 migrants, many of them asylum seekers, are crossing the US-Mexico border every day. It also coincides with the passage this week of a migrant caravan of thousands of individuals from around the area, mostly Venezuelans, through southern Mexico.

The repatriation flights are a part of a deal reached by regional leaders in October at a meeting in Mexico with the goal of finding answers for the high rates of migration that don’t seem to be going down.

Mexico’s Ministry of Foreign Relations said the two countries began repatriations with a flight on Friday and a second on Saturday in an effort to “strengthen their cooperation on migration issues.” The statement also said the two countries plan to implement social and work programs for those repatriated to Venezuela.

“Mexico and Venezuela reiterate their commitment to address the structural causes that fuel irregular migration in the region, and to achieve a humanitarian management of such flows,” the statement read.

Mexico’s government said it previously carried out a similar repatriation flight last Jan. 20 with 110 people.

Venezuelan authorities said Saturday that 207 Venezuelans had landed in Caracas on one of the latest flights.

Gustavo Vizcaino, director of Venezuela’s migration agency, said the migrants came on a “voluntary return flight,” part of a 2018 program of President Nicolas Maduro’s government seeking to bring back Venezuelans who have fled the country’s economic and political crisis.

As migration has soared in recent years, the US government has pressured Latin American nations to control the movement of migrants north, but many transit countries have struggled to deal with the quantities of people.

This week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and other Biden administration officials were in Mexico City to meet with Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador about the high levels of migrants landing on the US-Mexico border.

López Obrador said he also spoke about the issue in a phone call with Presient Joe Biden on Dec. 20.

“He asked — Joe Biden asked to speak with me — he was worried about the situation on the border because of the unprecedented number of migrants arriving at the border,” Mexico’s leader said. “He called me, saying we had to look for a solution together.”

López Obrador has said he is willing to help, but in exchange he wants the US to send more development aid to migrants’ home countries and to reduce or eliminate sanctions against Cuba and Venezuela.

Mexico’s president and other critics of American foreign policy have cited the sanctions on Cuba and Venezuela as one of the root causes of high migration.