In Episode 205 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg looks at the recent re-escalation and (hopefully) denouement of the dispute over Esequibo—an oil-rich territory controlled by Guyana and claimed by Venezuela. Ironically, this claim was first asserted by the conservative, anti-communist Venezuela of the 1960s to help destabilize the anti-imperialist Guyana of Cheddi Jagan. Today, the left-populist but increasingly nationalistic regime of Nicolás Maduro even entertains hubristic claims to sovereignty over Venezuela's other much larger neighbor, Colombia. But this revanchism appears to mask the fact that "revolutionary" Venezuela largely remains a petro-state with a rentier economy, vulnerable to drops in the global oil price, even if Chinese corporate exploiters have been replacing gringo ones. With the recent easing of sanctions, US giants like Chevron have even returned to Venezuela—while the extractivist model results in indigenous resistance. Contrary to the dogmas of left and right alike, the real root of the Venezuelan crisis is that the country is insufficiently socialist.
Mexico will step up efforts to deport asylum-seekers and migrants to their countries of origin in order to "depressurize" northern cities bordering the United States, the country's National Migration Institute announced Sept. 22 following a meeting with US officials. The number of people crossing the US-Mexico border has spiked again in recent weeks after a lull that followed the end of pandemic-era asylum restrictions and the introduction of new deterrence policies in May. It is unclear when the deportations will begin because Mexico will first have to negotiate with Venezuela, Brazil, Nicaragua, Colombia, and Cuba to make sure they accept their nationals. US cities, such as El Paso and Eagle Pass in Texas, have been scrambling to find shelter space as thousands of people have crossed the border on a daily basis in recent weeks, overwhelming reception capacity. Thousands are also still choosing to wait in northern Mexico while trying to make appointments using a government cell phone application to enter the United States and lodge asylum claims.
The United Nations released the Global Trend Report 2022 June 14, on refugees, asylum seekers, internally displaced and stateless people worldwide. It finds that the number of forcibly displaced people stands at 108.4 million, with 29.4 million falling under the protection of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). Both figures are at an historic high. The increase in forcible displacement within one year is also the largest since UNHCR started tracking these statistics in 1975. In light of the continuing significant increase, the report says forcible displacement likely exceeds 110 million as of May 2023.
President Joe Biden is temporarily deploying 1,500 soldiers to the US-Mexico border ahead of the end of a pandemic-era entry restriction known as Title 42 on May 11. The soldiers are to perform administrative tasks, but critics say the move sends the message that migration is a threat. Tens of thousands of asylum seekers and migrants currently stranded in dire conditions in northern Mexican border cities by US policies are growing increasingly desperate and frustrated. More than 15,000 people—mostly from Venezuela—crossed the border in the vicinity of Brownsville late last month, overwhelming shelter capacity. And in El Paso, nearly 2,000 people who recently crossed the border are sleeping on sidewalks in the city center. The Biden administration has introduced a number of policies aimed at extending asylum restrictions at the border and curbing migration. The administration reached a deal with Mexico on May 2 that for the first time allows the US to deport non-Mexicans who enter the country irregularly back across the border.
New York Mayor Eric Adams on Jan. 15 traveled to the US-Mexico border and declared that "there is no room" for migrants in his city. At a press conference with El Paso Mayor Oscar Leeser, Adams called on the US government to help cities manage unprecedented levels of immigration, and claimed that the influx of migrants could cost New York City up to $2 billion. "The federal government should pick up the entire cost," Adams said. "[W]e need a real leadership moment from FEMA. This is a national crisis." He also criticized the governors of Texas and Colorado for contributing to a "humanitarian crisis that was created by man," citing busloads of migrants sent to New York and other northern cities.
President Joe Biden on Jan. 5 announced that the US is to extend a parole program previously offered only to migrants from Venezuela to those from Cuba, Nicaragua and Haiti, allowing them to apply for residency—but reiterated that his administration will continue to enforce Title 42, in compliance with a recent order from the Supreme Court. In fact, under his new policy, Title 42 expulsions are to increase, with Mexico agreeing to accept expelled Cubans, Nicaraguans and Haitians. A provision of the Public Health Service Act allowing for summary expulsion of migrants at the southern border, Title 42 has been in effect pursuant to a Centers for Disease Control order of March 2020 as a COVID-19 emergency measure.
Negotiations barely got started in Mexico between representatives of Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his political opposition last month before the United States announced the loosening of oil sanctions imposed on the regime. The move, allowing Chevron to begin pumping oil again, comes amid global energy shortages following Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Profits are to go to Venezuela's creditors in the US, not the state oil firm, PDVSA.
A Venezuelan indigenous leader who fought against incursions by Colombian armed groups and outlaw gold miners into the country's southern rainforest was shot dead on June 30 in the Escondido 3 sector of Puerto Ayacucho municipality, capital of Amazonas state. Virgilio Trujillo Arana, a member of the Uwottujja indigenous people, was the leading force in the creation of the Sipapo Territorial Guards in Autana municipality, Amazonas. The Territorial Guard patrols were launched with support from the Amazonas Indigenous Peoples' Regional Organization (ORPIA).