The ongoing Venezuelan refugee crisis has created what the United Nations calls the largest mass migration in the history of the Western hemisphere. More than 3 million people have fled the political, economic and societal chaos that followed the death of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez in 2013 and the rise of his successor, Nicolas Maduro.
The millions of Venezuelans who have fled to neighboring countries often suffer from homelessness, hunger, unemployment and lack of health care. More than 700,000 have traveled to Peru in hopes their South American neighbor with a stable economy can provide new opportunities. The influx of Venezuelans into Peru is historic – it’s equal to 2 percent of the nation’s entire population.
Peru’s approach to the crisis has won accolades from observers and experts.For the most part, Venezuelan immigrants have been welcomed in Peru. However, a population influx of this magnitude is taking a toll. Peru’s immigration, education, housing, labor and health care systems are buckling under the pressure – a situation that could permanently change Peruvian society and culture.
In April, 2019 17 student reporters and two faculty members from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University spent eight days in Peru reporting on the crisis. The reporting trip followed nearly two semesters of research and study about migration, refugee, and border issues. The result of the students’ work is this special report – “Seeking Stability: Venezuelans in Peru.”
This project was made possible by a grant from the Howard G. Buffett Foundation, the Illinois-based nonprofit organization founded by the international photojournalist, author and philanthropist.
Rick Rodriguez is the former executive editor of the Sacramento (California) Bee and a Southwest Borderlands Initiative professor, where he teaches courses on Latino issues, ethics and depth reporting.
Jason Manning is the director of Student Media at Arizona State University and a professor of practice at the Cronkite School, where he teaches courses on digital technology and reporting.