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Private investors, unhinged over Mr. Chávez's nationalizations and expropriation threats, halted projects. Hundreds of thousands of scientists, doctors, entrepreneurs and others in the middle class left Venezuela, even as large numbers of immigrants from Haiti, China and Lebanon put down stakes.

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It means those people moved to Venezuela and settled there.

There is a more common expression "pull up stakes" and it has the opposite meaning (to move out, to go to live elsewhere).

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  • Did I understand correctly: Despite lots of people are coming to Venezuela from China and Haiti, scientists, doctors etc are leaving Venezuela. Jan 7, 2022 at 12:01
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    @JackH they are leaving not because of other people moving in, but because of Mr. Chávez's policies Jan 7, 2022 at 12:18

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