Published: 2017-08-17 12:21
Last Updated: 2017-08-17 12:57
For over a century, Lebanese people have been migrating from Greater Syria to South America, but now their descendants are returning due to the political crisis in Venezuela.
Largely concentrated in South America, the US, West Africa and the GCC, some of the diaspora is currently relocating back to Lebanon following recent events in Venezuela.
In Caracas, there are over 12,000 Venezuelans registered at the Lebanese embassy, most of them with Lebanese ancestry, holding dual-citizenship and travel frequently between the two countries according to a Venezuelan embassy official.
There is a considerable number Venezuelans attending the American University of Beirut, which has a Latino club-Sangre Latina, with over 100 members. There have also been over 10 protests in Beirut during the past 5 years protesting against Venezuelan government, according to NBC.
Venezuela is currently facing issues with hyperinflation, food shortages, increasing violence between government and protestors, and one of the highest murder rates in the world.
Since April, there have been daily clashes between security forces and protestors, calling for President Nicolas Maduro to step down. Maduro plans to rewrite the constitution which grants him more power, but the referendum received an overwhelming 7.2 million votes in opposition.
While some Lebanese-Venezuelans are grateful for Lebanon, and although they may be Lebanese by blood, they feel alienated as they consider Venezuela to be their home.
“My heart is Venezuelan, but my blood is Lebanese. And that is something I cannot deny,” says Sarah Hawi, a Venezuelan-born and raised graphic designer that moved recently moved to Lebanon.
Lebanese migration has been ongoing from as early as the 19th Century, with waves leaving Lebanon in times of political turmoil such as the Lebanese Civil War from the 70s to the 90s, and the 2006 Lebanon war between Hezbollah and Israel.
The Lebanese diaspora, referring to Lebanese immigrants and their descendants, outnumber Lebanese people living in Lebanon by at least double, according to some statistics, and more than triple according to others.