Venezuela announces changes to migration policies on October 5
Vice President Delcy Rodríguez reportedly announced on October 5 that new migration policies will be implemented starting in November. Among these policies, Rodríguez announced the introduction of a “Migration Police”, which will purportedly guard 72 entry points to the country, including ports, airports, and border checkpoints along Venezuela’s borders. Furthermore, the government will allow citizens to acquire the national passport using Petros, the government-sponsored cryptocurrency. Rodríguez stated that the current price for issuing a passport is 7200 bolivares (VES). While that amounts to 16.6 USD at the nominal rate backed by the government, and about 115 USD at the unofficial market rate. Starting November, nationals applying for a passport or seeking to renew one will reportedly have to pay between 1 and 2 Petros. According to official sources, 1 Petro is roughly 3600 VES. According to UN sources, between 2017 and 2018 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled the country owing to the distraught situation in the country.
It is yet unclear whether the newly-created Migration Police will replace the National Guard in manning border checkpoints and controls. Given that both bodies are integrated by elements loyal to the government, these are likely to coexist in the near term fulfilling similar functions. In light of the growing number of Venezuelans leaving the country without passports, especially through land checkpoints, it is likely the government introduced the Migration Police to prevent nationals traveling without passports from going abroad. In this sense, considering that the ongoing migration crisis has given credence to influential voices calling for an international humanitarian intervention in Venezuela, the government is probably attempting to curtail the number of people fleeing the country. At the same time, by pricing the national passport in Petros, the government is attempting to promote the use of its cryptocurrency, which has thus far performed poorly in terms of market capitalization. In any case, taking into account that Venezuelan passports are neither issued promptly nor within affordable prices for large sectors of society, the measure is unlikely to have a meaningful impact for the better.