Honors Theses

Date of Award

Spring 5-1-2021

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis


Croft Institute for International Studies

First Advisor

Marcos Mendoza

Second Advisor

Oliver Dinius

Third Advisor

Gregory Love

Relational Format



In its 2008 Constitution, Ecuador enshrined radically inclusive principles of universal citizenship and legal protections for migrants, written in a moment of historic Ecuadorian emigration. Yet in the wake of the Venezuelan migrant crisis and President Lenin Moreno’s shift towards austerity, how has his administration (2017-2021) responded to the Venezuelan migration in policy and in political discourse? Through an analysis of legal documents including ministerial agreements, legislation, executive decrees, and the VERHU visa, this paper outlines a pattern of legal restrictions levied on Venezuelan migrants. Additionally, this paper employs a qualitative content analysis of the Moreno administration’s political discourse, including state actors’ speeches, interviews and tweets discussing Venezuelan migrants. I found that the Moreno administration uses logics of “control in order to protect” in justifying legal restriction to Venezuelan migrants’ entry to Ecuador, and in public discourse, the state frames Venezuelan migrants as victims of a despotic Maduro regime and recipients of Ecuadorian benevolence, thus constructing Ecuador as a ‘humanitarian state’ in public imagination. When there are points of divergence from this characterization of vulnerable migrants in moments of violence, actors employ criminalizing language but preserve a distinction for an ‘innocent’ Venezuelan migrant, too. Through a migration management perspective, I conclude that humanitarian rhetoric is invoked to cloak legal restrictions while maintaining the appearance of Ecuador as a humanitarian state.


A thesis presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for completion of the Bachelor of Arts degree in International Studies from the Croft Institute for International Studies and the Sally McDonnell Barksdale Honors College.



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