A few years ago, dictator Nicolás Maduro created the Return to the Fatherland program, with the aim of helping Venezuelans return to the country if they so wish. The project offers transfers to Venezuela and insertion into the country’s social protection system, and its official justification by the Chavista dictatorship was to serve as a “response to the situation of vulnerability or economic hardship suffered by Venezuelan citizens residing abroad”.
However, like everything else in Venezuela, Volta à Pátria is a fiasco. According to figures published by the investigative magazine Expediente Público this month, based on statistics from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), only 073 .073 Venezuelans returned to the country through the program between 2022 and May of this year (the number does not consider the who returned on their own). Since 1998, the year before Hugo Chávez came to power, around 6.5 million people have left Venezuela.
The chaos economic and social situation experienced by the country (which became even worse with the death of Chávez and his replacement by Maduro) is the obvious explanation for the refusal of millions of people to return to Venezuela, but the Chavista dictatorship has sold in 2022 the image that better times are beginning.
After changes and opening in economic policy, there is a prospect of growth this year and inflation of 48,4% accumulated in the first seven months of the year, although very high, is well below the absurd rate of 48.000% of the entire year of 2018.
However , Ryan Berg, a researcher at the Americas Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), believes there is no reason for optimism. In an article published by CSIS, he argued that the reforms promoted by the Maduro dictatorship have only benefited the so-called enchufados, or well-connected.
“Given that this universe is accessible only to the top layer of Venezuela under Maduro, any discussion of the country’s economic recovery must consider a question: recovery for whom? All indicators show that any economic recovery has been profoundly uneven, and ordinary Venezuelans have mostly been left behind by the ‘new economy’, while well-connected, regime-loyal and sycophant Venezuelans are likely to earn more,” he pointed out.
Berg highlighted that, even if it is considered the best scenario, estimated by the Swiss investment bank Credit Suisse that there may be a growth of 20% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) this year, “Venezuela, which has gone through years of hyperinflation and a macroeconomic decline of around 48% since 1998, it would take almost a decade of these fantastic growth rates just to regain the position it was in at the beginning of the Maduro era.”
“An economic analysis firm based in Caracas estimated the recovery time to be 16 years, taking into account an uninterrupted economic growth rate and cont innocuous. However, since 1975, Venezuela has not experienced more than five years of growth without recession”, pondered Berg.
In an interview to Bloomberg, the coordinator of the Organization of American States (OAS) working group on the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis, David Smolansky, said that there will be no greater interest in returning until a regime change takes place.
“The vast majority of those who had to leave the country do not consider this programas an option, and for them it is very clear that the option for them to return is for there to be a change in Venezuela, the restoration of democracy, the recovery of freedoms, the rule of law, security, basic services”, he stressed.
Smolansky also pointed out that, although the situation of Venezuelans in other countries still needs to improve, the lives of many are better than the Chavista dictatorship tries to make it seem: more than 2.7 million of them are already regularized in countries such as Colombia (whose reception the coordinator classified as “exemplary”), Peru, Brazil and the Dominican Republic.
“Significant progress is being made in the region to regularize Venezuelans, but this is a such an acute crisis, of a dimension only comparable to that of Syria, that evidently every day there are Venezuelans leaving the country and there are still many to be regularized”, said the coordinator.