Curaçao is currently going through a very serious economic crisis. It is therefore understandable that not many people listen to any kind of solidarity with the many Venezuelans who have fled to our country.
But is it wise not to show solidarity with the victims of the catastrophe in Venezuela? Would it not be better, for example, to think of a temporary work permit? Below are some reasons why that is also in the interest of Curaçao.
The costs of public services in a country like Curaçao are high. Financing this is becoming increasingly difficult for two reasons. First of all: the local population growth is shrinking. This is due to emigration, especially to the Netherlands, and a low fertility rate of on average 1.7 children per woman during her lifetime, while that must be 2.1 on average to keep the population stable.
The other reason is the increase in life expectancy: it is 78 years on Curaçao and continues to rise. It goes without saying that having fewer people of productive age and the increase in the number of retirees poses financial problems without increasing taxes. The alternative is to levy taxes on those who do not pay taxes as follows: the average age of people who have arrived from Venezuela in recent years is between 25 and 40 years. That is an age where people are in their most productive phase of life. An ideal group to contribute to taxes without incurring excessive health or pension costs.
But in Curaçao there is a fear that these Venezuelans will take the jobs of the local population. A survey by the International Organization for Migrants (IOM) at the turn of the year shows that almost all of these Venezuelan migrants are already working. Only they do not pay taxes, because that would be more attractive for employers. The same research shows that a high percentage of them want to return to their country as soon as the circumstances change. Perfect candidates for a temporary work permit, and perhaps a residence permit without building up residence rights.
The cost of detaining someone in the barracks for "illegal immigrants" costs Curaçao 350 guilders a day, according to the minister of justice. In addition, there are costs for the immigration service and for the deportation of immigrants.
Wouldn't it be better to use those resources to increase security on our island? Don't forget that various international organizations and countries finance a large part of the costs of hosting Venezuelan refugees such as Brazil and Colombia. A good humanitarian plan in Curaçao can also count on such financing.
No country is safe
The people who are currently leaving Venezuela do not simply do so because they are looking for better economic or social opportunities. They do so in order to survive because they leave a country that, even though it is not at war, does have all the characteristics of an armed conflict.
A few years ago, no one could imagine that such a situation could occur in a country with as much wealth as Venezuela. Unfortunately, no country is safe from a similar collapse, either for natural or political reasons.
A migration crisis such as that of the Venezuelans is a problem for all humanity. This is also seen by various UN organizations that have published about this crisis. Unfortunately, Curaçao is not doing well in terms of human rights protection in these reports. It is high time to do the right thing.