Immigration to Venezuela

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Colonia Tovar, founded by Agustín Codazzi in 1843 with colonists largely from southwestern Germany. Its inhabitants have reserved the culture and language, speaking Alemán Coloniero dialect.

Immigration to Venezuela has been significant. After the Spanish colonization of the Americas brought some Europeans and some African slaves, immigration to Venezuela was significant particularly in the period after World War II, with large numbers of immigrants from Europe, particularly southern Europe. In addition, Venezuela shares a 1000-mile border with Colombia and has long had substantial numbers of Colombian residents. Since the 1980s, the Colombian conflict has seen largescale Colombian immigration, with Venezuela the number one destination for displaced Colombians: by 2008, there were over 4 million,[1] compared to a total Venezuelan population of around 27 million.

Nineteenth century immigration[edit]

The nineteenth century saw Corsican immigration to Venezuela, with Corsicans playing a substantial role in the cocoa industry. German immigration included the founding of Colonia Tovar in 1843, and German traders played a significant economic role particularly around Maracaibo. By the turn of the nineteenth century and the Venezuela Crisis of 1902–1903, German traders dominated Venezuela's import/export sector and informal banking system.

Post-war European immigration[edit]

After World War II, with Eduardo Mendoza Goiticoa in charge of immigration, substantial numbers of immigrants came from Europe, particularly southern Europe. As Secretary of Agriculture for Rómulo Betancourt's government, Mendoza headed the Venezuelan Institute for Immigration and embraced the creation of the International Refugee Organization in 1946 (this body was later replaced by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees). Mendoza succeeded, despite fierce opposition within the cabinet, in ensuring that Venezuela would aid European refugees and displaced people who could not or would not return to their homes after World War II and chose to emigrate to Venezuela. He assumed responsibility for the legal protection and resettlement of tens of thousands of refugees arriving in Venezuela. International Refugee Organization officials consider Mendoza to have directed the most successful refugee program in the post-war period. Immigration reached a peak while he was minister and would later decline with a new government.[2][3]


  1. ^ (Spanish) YVKE, 4 March 2008, Venezuela alberga mayor número de desplazados colombianos en el mundo
  2. ^ [The Refugee experience: Ukrainian displaced persons after World War II, Pages 30-36]
  3. ^ [1]