HomeNewsBriefGovernment Mafia Structures Plague Venezuela Emigration Process
BRIEF

Government Mafia Structures Plague Venezuela Emigration Process

ELITES AND CRIME / 29 NOV 2018 BY VENEZUELA INVESTIGATIVE UNIT EN

The enormous bribery and extortion pressures that Venezuelans face when trying to leave their country legally is further proof that criminal structures are operating within the government, taking advantage of desperate citizens attempting to emigrate.

Bloomberg recently published a price list for a plethora of migration-related services including obtaining and renewing passports, certifying college degrees, obtaining and expunging criminal records or even obtaining a Chilean passport. The list is an example of alleged bribes that Venezuelans need to pay to a so-called “fixer” -- “gestor” in Spanish -- an intermediary with supposed connections to Venezuela’s government institutions.

“There’s this bribes list making the rounds on WhatsApp, audaciously laying out, restaurant-menu style, the going rates: $4,500 for a passport, $400 for a Chilean visa, $7,000 to erase a criminal record, $100 for the stamp that validates college diplomas. Those are the latest offerings from one of the ‘gestors’ -- fixers, roughly translated -- who are in hot demand all over town,” wrote Andrew Rosati, the story’s author.

SEE ALSO: Venezuela News and Profiles

Rosati added that fixers usually do not advertise their prices so openly due to the illegal nature of what they do.

“But the circulation of even this one list highlights just how widespread bribing has become here,” wrote Rosati.

The story is one of several in a series Bloomberg is publishing to document the corruption and other wrongdoing that Venezuelans face while conducting the day-to-day activities of their lives.

In June, Internal Affairs Minister Néstor Reverol recognized the existence of mafias within the Identification, Migration and Alien Affairs Administration Service (Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería – SAIME). He also acknowledged that such mafias demanded exorbitant fees from their victims to deliver their passports.

Moreover, President Nicolás Maduro has dismissed the institution’s director, Juan Carlos Dugarte.

InSight Crime Analysis

Every Venezuelan citizen needs a passport in order to legally leave the country. But for more than two years, it has been virtually impossible to obtain one through the country’s official government channels.

Desperate to escape Venezuela’s dire economic situation, many citizens are resorting to informal and illegal means of obtaining their passports. While non-governmental organization Transparency Venezuela has registered 195 cases of illegal passport fees since January 2017, a likely high number of unreported cases makes it impossible to nail down a reliable figure.

Meanwhile, SAIME officials and fixers alike are demanding astronomical prices to speed up the process to secure a passport or to skirt it altogether. They charge hopeful emigres anywhere from $2,500 to $4,500. With the official government price as of October set at 7,200 bolivares (approximately $16 when calculating with the black-market exchange rate), such fees are 300 times the actual value of the document. Considering that even the far lower, official cost is out of reach for most Venezuelans, who earn a minimum wage of roughly $3.90 per month, the amount overcharged is particularly oppressive.

Add to that the equally insurmountable cost of certifying a criminal record or college degree, or any of the myriad other documents and procedures that destination countries require to legally live and work within their borders.

SEE ALSO: Restrictions on Venezuela Migrants Boost Criminal Networks

The Venezuelan government seems to have become the primary victimizer of Venezuelan citizens trying to emigrate from the country. Corruption and mafia structures operating inside the institutions responsible for the processing and delivery of the documents needed to leave the country are taking advantage of the desperation of potential migrants.

These criminal structures are so well-oiled that they operate without abatement; when a piece stops functioning, another quickly and easily moves in to replace it. Hence why SAIME’s corruption continues even after its director was fired.

It should come as no surprise, then, that the increasing forced migration of Venezuelans has become a boon to both transnational organized crime through its human smuggling and trafficking operations and to the recruitment efforts of guerrilla and other criminal groups in Colombia.

share icon icon icon

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

What are your thoughts? Click here to send InSight Crime your comments.

We encourage readers to copy and distribute our work for non-commercial purposes, with attribution to InSight Crime in the byline and links to the original at both the top and bottom of the article. Check the Creative Commons website for more details of how to share our work, and please send us an email if you use an article.

Was this content helpful?

We want to sustain Latin America’s largest organized crime database, but in order to do so, we need resources.

DONATE

Related Content

COLOMBIA / 6 MAY 2021

In the past year and a half, two murder cases have shaken the city of Cali: the slaying of its…

ELITES AND CRIME / 5 AUG 2015

Prosecutors in Peru have handed down the first charges under a new law specifically targeting "sicariato," or hired killings, raising…

COLOMBIA / 19 NOV 2010

In an unprecedented gesture of diplomacy, Colombian officials have announced that an alleged Venezuelan drug trafficker arrested earlier…

About InSight Crime

THE ORGANIZATION

InSight Crime’s Greater Focus on US-Mexico Border

20 JUL 2021

InSight Crime has decided to turn many of its investigative resources towards understanding and chronicling the criminal dynamics along the US-Mexico border.

THE ORGANIZATION

Key Arrests and Police Budget Increases Due to InSight Crime Investigations

8 JUL 2021

With Memo Fantasma’s arrest, InSight Crime has proven that our investigations can and will uncover major criminal threats in the Americas.

THE ORGANIZATION

Organized Crime’s Influence on Gender-Based Violence

30 JUN 2021

InSight Crime investigator Laura N. Ávila spoke on organized crime and gender-based violence at the launch of a research project by the United Nations Development Programme.

THE ORGANIZATION

Conversation with Paraguay Judicial Operators on PCC

24 JUN 2021

InSight Crime Co-director Steven Dudley formed part of a panel attended by over 500 students, all of whom work in Paraguay's judicial system.

THE ORGANIZATION

Combating Environmental Crime in Colombia

15 JUN 2021

InSight Crime presented findings from an investigation into the main criminal activities fueling environmental destruction in Colombia.