Meet the first Venezuelan neighborhood in Lima

By November 8, 2017

San Juan de Lurigancho has become the first Venezuelan neighborhood in Lima.

Thanks to Peruvian government efforts to issue more working permits for Venezuelans, several families have migrated to Peru and have settled at the heart of San Juan de Lurigancho.

The “barrio chamo”, as the newcomers call their new neighborhood, has been making headlines due to reports circulating on various news channels and social media. San Juan de Lurigancho is seen by interviewees as a place with opportunities for many Venezuelan entrepreneurs. Furthermore, the creation of a growing Venezuelan community has also allowed sharing aspects of their culture and identity with Peruvian citizens.

René Cobeñas, a Peruvian textile entrepreneur, provides migrants with temporary shelter and jobs in his business. This has served as an initial platform for these families to be able to launch their own small businesses; making and selling local Venezuelan delicacies such as “arepas” and “bombitas”.

These Venezuelan delicacies have hit Peruvian streets by storm, with businesses successfully selling them on the sides of roads, at traffic lights, and recently, at a Venezuelan food festival in Lima. The festival saw some 20 Venezuelan entrepreneurs share with others food, drinks and local artifacts, including a fruit punch called “tizana” and “ponche crema”, a creamy rum drink.

Families have left behind their whole livelihoods in Venezuela to start from scratch in Peru. The video features stories of those who have given up jobs and striving careers just to escape the hardships and repression back home. One such story is that of Sucker, a young man who now works in preparing and cooking arepas; back in Venezuela, he had a promising career ahead as a rising star for the national junior soccer team.

Government Support for Venezuelans

The Peruvian government has been working hard to give Venezuelans the possibility of a new beginning, with residence and work permits. In February, the government provided a first set of temporary work permits to all Venezuelan migrants who were currently residing in Peru at the time.

The “Temporary Residency Permit” (PTP) gives Venezuelans the chance to legally set up a company or start working in the country for one year, after which they can apply for an extension. The government have increased the number of allocated PTPs, and has already given more than 11,400 to Venezuelans who have entered the country legally and with no criminal records.

With the increasing number of Venezuelans escaping the conflict and looking to Peru for safety and opportunity has created high demand for work permits.

Oscar Pérez Torres, a former Venezuelan politician living in exile in Peru since 2009, has taken the role of spokesman for the Venezuelan community in Peru. Pérez maintains direct contact with President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski on these and other issues faced by these expats.

“The good thing is Peru does indeed have the capacity to take them in. And they have the willingness to do so too” Pérez told DW.