A total of 152 Venezuelan immigrants were surveyed in Lima. Participants were contacted in the selected areas of A (17.1%), B (15.8%), C (5.9%), and D (61.2%). Of these 152 participants, two were excluded when they abandoned the study. A further seven participants were excluded due to the percentage of blanks in any of the three domains exceeding 10%. Following these steps, a total of 143 participants entered analysis.
Nearly 60% of immigrant participants were women. In terms of auto-reported race, more than a third of the population was ‘white’, while the ‘colored’ demographic made up nearly three-fifths of the population. Adults between the ages of 25 and 59 accounted for approximately 60% of participants. From the total survey, nearly 75% of participants had no partner. Regarding education level, almost two-thirds of the surveyed participants responded as having reached higher education. Only one out every 20 individuals did not have a Temporary Permanence Permit (TPP) and, thus, could not legally work. Individuals earning at least minimum wage were 75% as seen in Table 1.
The median time since arrival in Peru was seven months, with an interquartile range from 4-10 months. The most common entry point into Peru was the Tumbes region, accounting for 80% of entries into the country. Immigrants reported predominantly coming from the Capital (25.9%) and Central regions (22.3%) of Venezuela, respectively. Other regions with significant populations were the Central-Western and Eastern regions.
With respect to travel method, the most common was bus accounting for much of the population (90%). Other travel methods included via air (9.8%), mixed route (3.5%), and by foot (0.7%) as presented in Table 1.
Description of the outcome variable (instrument)
The global score for the OQ-45.2 was clinically significant in only six participants (4.2%). In the SD domain, four participants (2.8%) registered clinically significant scores. As can be seen in Table 2, in the domains of IR and SR, 23.1% and 13.3% participants scored in the clinically significant range, respectively.
Outcome bivariate analysis
In the bivariate analysis, gender was associated with clinically significant overall OQ-45.2 score. In addition, age was associated with clinically significant symptom distress score, while civil status was associated with clinically significant interpersonal relations score. The associations between the total and domain scores with socio-demographic variables can be seen in Tables 3-6.
The crude and adjusted analyses carried are presented in Tables 7 and 8. Crude and adjusted analyses were carried out. Months in Peru, age, and variables that showed significant association in bivariate analysis were considered in the crude analysis. A significant association with respect to age was found, namely, a 2% increase chance of having a clinically significant SR score. No association was found in the unadjusted model with respect to IR.
Two adjusted models were utilized in the adjusted analysis. The statistical model was adjusted for months in Peru, age, and variables that showed significant association in the bivariate analysis. The epidemiological model was adjusted for the confounding variables of migratory quality, monthly income, and civil status.
Similarly, a significant association with respect to age was found in the adjusted statistical model, wherein a 3% increase in the chance of having a clinically significant SR score was observed. Correspondingly, the confounding variables of migratory status, monthly income, and civil status were included in epidemiologic analysis. However, no association was found in this model.
As with the crude multivariate IR analysis, no association was found in either adjusted model. As clinically significant SD and total scores were present in only a very small percentage of participants, no multivariate analysis was carried out with respect to these scores.
In order to estimate reliability, Cronbach’s alpha of the total OQ-45.2 score was calculated to be 0.87. Similarly, Cronbach’s alpha for the domains of IR, SR, and SD were 0.61, 0.64, and 0.85, respectively. SD showed good reliability while the other domains showed moderate reliability.
Two items were observed to have negative correlation with respect to the total score, while five had poor internal correlation. These questions were then excluded, and an exploratory factorial analysis (EFA) was carried out, where eigenvalues greater than one and correlation values greater than 0.3 were considered. Six underlying factors were detected in the questionnaire. The first factor was the SD domain, while the other five factors did not correspond to the other two domains.
Characteristics of informants
A total of 16 informants were interviewed, each receiving a pseudonym seen in Table 9. Informants were evenly divided between men and women and ages ranging from 19 to 49 years old. Time of residence in Peru ranged from two to eighteen months. Thirteen informants had a partner, 14 had at least some higher education, and 12 informants had a valid work permit. The most common point of entry was Tumbes with 10 informants followed by Lima/Callao with five, and one through Piura. Bus was the most frequently used method of travel; just one informant each entered by airplane and on foot.
A majority of informants worked in the sales sector and were in the process of obtaining their TPP. A quarter of the sample was obtained from the mothers accompanying their children in the pediatrics department of a public hospital.
Self-perception of symptom distress
The symptoms of distress mentioned in most interviews were described in unspecific terms like ‘anxiety’, ‘psychological blow’, and ‘tension’. As one informant (Samuel) phrased it, the information relayed from Venezuela, or lack thereof, affected him psychologically:
“Communication in Venezuela, due to internet problems, is also difficult. I’ve gone as long as two weeks without hearing from them. And when I do talk to them it’s always the same difficulties. The psychological blows are strong. The deterioration in Venezuela has been happening exponentially, you see. Things get worse every time.”
Another contributing factor was the current situation in the country, especially the economic situation. While discussing this topic, an informant (Angela) described how she was, “anxious to be better, to progress, to grow, to have better living conditions for my children.”
As for the manifestations of distress, a couple of informants described how their anxiety caused weight gain. In these cases, the individual had previously lost weight due to poor nutrition in Venezuela. With the newfound availability of food in Peru, one informant talked about how it was a way they managed their anxiety.
One informant mentioned how insomnia and headaches were a new problem and attributed it to their state of anxiety and tension. Another informant with previous history of depression mentioned how insomnia had presented before their migration and had continued. A further informant (Ana) detailed how memories and thoughts of life in Venezuela had become a recurring nightly theme in her dreams and did not allow her to sleep well:
“I always dreamt the same, I started getting better a while ago. I started controlling it to get better, but I was dreaming practically the same thing every day. My recurring dream was that I would get to Venezuela but did not have money to return to Peru. So, I would anguish because I would remember the chaos from back home and that wouldn’t allow me to rest.”
A minority of participants touched upon frequent weeping and associated it with a constant state of anxiety and tension due to employment issues and news from Venezuela. In particular, one informant (Micaela) had decided to leave Peru at the time of the interview. In tears, she discussed how she became pregnant after entering a relationship with a Peruvian a few months after arriving. During her pregnancy, the relationship ended and communication with the father of her child ceased. Feeling alone in a new country, she suffered from weeping and emotional lability stemming from job insecurity. Specifically, she (Micaela) was afraid of losing her job due to a combination of being pregnant and vulnerability as a Venezuelan immigrant: “More than anything else, I was crying. It was more, I didn’t want to leave home, I wanted to stay and rest. Or when I was pregnant and on my tenth hour of work, I wanted to sleep. I felt bad and I couldn’t say anything.”
One informant (Roberto) described how his new fast-paced life in Lima had physical repercussions which he described as “tics on my face” from having to rush through the day.
However, not all topics mentioned with respect to distress were negative. A minority of informants brought up the fact that they had more energy in Peru. These informants narrated how their change in lifestyle had forced them to change the way they faced adversity. In particular, one informant (Yesenia) with a history of major depressive disorder had decided to leave Venezuela in an attempt to overcome her condition. She went on to describe how she continued taking her medication at first, but, with time, discovered she no longer needed it and discontinued pharmacologic treatment.
Self-perception of interpersonal relations
All informants mentioned having witnessed or received insults, whether on social networks or in public on account of being Venezuelan. Similarly, one informant reported having been physically assaulted by a Peruvian on a public bus. However, some informants believe that the number of Peruvians with “xenophobic conduct” were a minority, similar to how they perceived the Venezuelans who commit crimes to be few. The majority attributed the xenophobic behavior to the ‘generalization’ of delinquency to all Venezuelans as a whole.
One informant (Juan) interpreted how the crimes committed by his compatriots affected him, causing him embarrassment as he stated:
“We are not here because we want to be, we are here out of necessity. I am going to apologize for my Venezuelan compatriots who have come here to do bad things, but we are not all the same. I apologize if you have been offended by some Venezuelans, because we have the mentality of work ethic and giving our children an education [sobbing].”
An informant (Yesenia) brought up advice from her coworkers in Venezuela against emigrating to Peru due to a “retrograde mentality” instilled in Peruvians. After her time spent in Peru, she agreed with the assessment. As she stated, this mentality generated discomfort and influenced her decision against establishing herself in Peru in the long term:
“Really, almost all of my coworkers migrated to Europe, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, the United States. When I told them I wanted to come here, they said, “No, God, their mentality is a little bit backwards.” How can I put it? … “They do not care about learning about other cultures, they are a bit closed off in their own thing.”
A majority of informants touched upon the differences between Venezuelans and Peru with respect to manners, stating that Peruvians were less courteous and gracious. As one informant (Ana) described:
“You arrive at some place and say, ‘good day’ and their response is, ‘OK’. ‘OK’ is not an answer to a greeting. Here you say, ‘good evening’ and nobody responds. You go on a bus, give up your seat, and nobody thanks you. That basic education that you learn at home, you do not see here. I would not want to have a child here and have him grow up with those manners.”
Likewise, some informants also detailed characteristics they believed to be Peruvian, such as “bitter”, “hermetic”, “dry”, and “stressed out”. In comparison, informants emphasized Venezuelan character as “open”, “warm”, “kind”, and “good-humored”. According to some informants, this perceived difference meant a more challenging adaptation to Peru. Given that this complicates relations between Peruvians and Venezuelans, the opinion was that this promoted isolation of social circles based on nationality.
However, nearly half of informants counted Peruvians amongst their friends; the other half-maintained friendships principally with Venezuelans. One informant considered Peruvians to be “receptive” and “warm”, this representing a main reason for selecting Peru as a destination country. In addition, nearly all informants felt that they had received help from Peruvians, mainly in the form of home gifts and food, but also emotional support. In a few cases a Peruvian had served in a “paternal” role and offered “familial” treatment.
More than half of informants reported having received support from fellow Venezuelans, generally, family members, friends, or partners. Here, the support was lodging and employment opportunities. Crucially, a majority had family waiting for them in Peru. This presence of family was a defining factor in selecting Peru as their destination country. Despite the feeling of support, one informant (Pablo) believed that jealousy existed within Venezuelan compatriots of different socioeconomic levels. The same informant preferred Peruvian friendships because he was able to avoid conversations over struggles common in Venezuelans. One of these struggles was money, as he stated: “I do not talk with any Venezuelan. Imagine you are depressed because of your problems. You do not have money to send to your mother. Another Venezuelan comes along and says, “Oh, neither do I.”
Every informant that did not live with members of his/her nuclear family mentioned that their absence was a source of “sadness” or “sorrow”. Nearly every informant talked about how their principal motivation for their emigration to Peru was the economic support they could provide their families, whether it be in Venezuela or Peru. However, one informant (Yesenia) did register a desire to “live outside of Venezuela” as their main reason.
A few informants manifested the discomfort caused by the suspicion Venezuelans paid more for rent, food, and clothes. Despite the many difficulties faced in Peru, several informants highlighted the fact that they had attained greater economic stability which allowed them to take care of their family. This was a source of happiness which would have been difficult to obtain in Venezuela.
Self-perception of social role
Among the most discussed topics pertaining to social role was labor exploitation, low wages, and absence of free time. A majority of informants declared their priority upon arrival in Peru to be employment. Notably, no informant regretted their decision to leave Venezuela and no informant regretted selecting Peru as their destination country despite the difficulties encountered at their job.
Every informant considered Peru as an intermediate country and had plans to leave the country. The majority planned to return directly to Venezuela, however, it had to be a Venezuela similar to the country before its socio-political and economic downturns. As one informant (Carlos) described: “I would like it to be the Venezuela I miss, with security and respect for the law, without corruption, with elimination of delinquency. A country where everything is accessible: education, health, and food.”
A minority did plan on moving on to another country, adding that they had family or friends in countries like Chile and Spain. This motivated them to consider these countries. Just like the majority of informants, this group had the goal of ultimately returning to Venezuela when it recovered. A single informant (Pablo) manifested his rejection to returning to Venezuela. As he stated: “I always had it engrained that when I was 30 years old, I would not be in Venezuela any longer. I simply want to use Peru as a trampoline to study then move to another country. Maybe Argentina, I am also Argentinean.”
With respect to employment, a majority of informants summarized the differences between both countries as “culture shock”. These informants believe that there are shorter work hours, less workload, and, as a result, greater amount of free time in Venezuela. They interpret that employers base a workday on tasks, which require overtime, rather than hours. Furthermore, there is no additional pay for overtime or holidays. As one informant (Yesenia) discussed:
“They go to bathroom with labor laws. They require you to work extra hours on tasks that they know you cannot finish in a normal day. If you do not finish, you do not get paid. Even small companies force you to work a minimum of 12 hours. The law is null here, you can forget getting paid double on holidays.”
More than half reported uncomfortable experiences at work. A majority interpreted that the relationship they had with their boss was a hostile or authoritarian one. Of the five female informants who held jobs at the time of the interviews, four had a negative relationship with their employer; a departure from male informants, where a small minority opined the same. However, some informants did enjoy a positive relationship with their employer. In particular, a young informant described in detail how his boss served as a paternal figure in Peru and even offered him free lodging in his house. In other instances, employers served as a support system, aiding in the adaptation process.
Some informants believed that the work conditions they suffered were due to their immigrant status while others considered it to be a part of the Peruvian work environment. It is worth highlighting that every informant who reported suffering from poor treatment denied that this was commonplace in Venezuela. As a result of 12-hour workdays, they did not have time to engage in activities outside of work. As one informant (Chris) recounted: “They liked to order us around at my old job, the same place that fired us. They wanted everything to be done quickly, perfectly, without a single mistake because everything was an earful. Something we are not accustomed to.”
One particular case involved a 23-year-old informant (Adriana) who relived an occasion of sexual harassment by a previous employer. She described him as “touchy” which led to her resignation. The same informant described an instance of groping in public by a Peruvian man, a situation she said she never suffered in Venezuela and one which deeply affected her. In tears, she stated: “A Peruvian man approached and followed me … he groped my rear … it was horrible. It was horrible, never in my life had that happened. I wanted to cry because I was not able to do anything.”
At the time of interview, no informant was searching for employment. However, a majority did have experience with unemployment in Peru, whether personal or of a partner. In the opinion of the informants, the average time they had spent looking for employment varied from one to two weeks. A majority of informants also manifested that their monthly income was below the minimum wage. Similarly, around a third of informants could not work in their profession as a result of the inability to transfer their set of skills.
A couple of housewife informants lamented the absence of the child-rearing support system they could count on in Venezuela. As one informant (Micaela) mentioned: “Here, at least, I do not have my own home. I have to pay rent and depend on a host of other factors. At least in Venezuela, I had a place of my own. And my family is over there, I am alone here.” In contrast to those informants without children, those with children had to prioritize financial resources for their children rather than family back in Venezuela.
Additionally, more than half believed that employers viewed them as a source of “cheap labor”. In addition, two informants reported receiving counterfeit money as payment. As one informant (Juan) put it: “I had to work 17 hours in my first job here in Peru and I was paid with a counterfeit 200 soles bill. That was my first disappointment here.”