Photo: AFP retrieved

1288: That’s the decree number approved on August 2, 2018, by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, through which the Permiso Especial de Permanencia (PEP, or Special Permanence Permit) becomes the way to regularize 442,462 Venezuelans who were in the country irregularly, as documented through the recently concluded Registro Administrativo de Migrantes Venezolanos, RAMV (yep, we got our own special registry). The decree also adds protection for Colombians who are coming back to their homeland after years in Venezuela.

Golazo! Way to go, Colombia!

According to Colombian authorities, close to 1 million Venezuelans arrived there in the last 15 months (870,093, to be exact). How did they get this number?

  • A group of some 381,735 Venezuelans had already adjusted their status with a visa, a previous version of the PEP or a stamped passport;
  • Around 442,462 Venezuelans were irregular and in the process of regularizing their stay, as documented in the RAMV, which took place between April and June this year, in 413 municipalities at the Colombian border and other cities. These are the beneficiaries of Decree 1288;
  • Around 45,896 have entered via trochas, or have overextended their allowed stay, and are irregular migrants;

With this decree, the 442,462 Venezuelans in process of regularization can now have access to the PEP, or RAMV-PEP, as it’s being called, which allows them to stay for two years, granting them key rights, like the right to health, education and employment.

This is important, because results of the RAMV painted a worrisome picture of arriving Venezuelans, in at least these three dimensions:

  • Around 437,513 (or 98% in the registry) said they weren’t affiliated to any health benefit. This was bad considering their precarious health conditions. The RAMV says that health, along with food scarcity, were the main Venezuelan migration triggers;
  • Of the 118,709 children migrants, only 33,107 were registered in Colombian schools. That’s only 27%, when it should be 100%;
  • Of those who answered the registry, 3,326 had a formal job, meaning a mere 0.7%; 439,136 had informal, or no jobs. With around 16% of irregular Venezuelans in Colombia having technical or professional studies, the decree opens a range of job opportunities and many potential benefits for the Colombian economy.

But we’re not there yet. The challenge is now implementation: Venezuelans will have to comply with certain requirements to get their RAMV-PEP (like participating in the RAMV and keep the certificate, have no previous arrests or arrest warrants, and have no deportation measures initiated). The price to pay for these rights? None. “No hay que bajarse de la mula para obtener el PEP, solo debe cumplir a juro con los requisitos,” Migración Colombia dixit.

On the Colombian government’s side, there’s more to do. For the next couple of months, and until early October, Migración Colombia will have to receive and process the applications of 442,000 Venezuelans, a few thousand per day. No small feat, but certainly commendable.

Regularization is the first step for a safe, orderly migration process, as proposed by the Global Compact for Migration, guaranteeing the  protection of migrants’ human rights. This is something that other countries of the region must follow, and there’s responsibility on these Venezuelans, too. They must be examples of civic duty, fulfill the obligations of residing in Colombia, respect its laws and make sure to contribute positively to the communities they take root in.

A dar la talla, guys.

DISCLAIMER: The views are personal and do not represent the position of the OAS.

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14 COMMENTS

  1. Bullshit.

    Santos didn’t do a fucking thing to counter Chavez for years and years. He failed miserably as a regional leader.

    Now, with a few days left in his term, he pulls this? When he had a thousand opportunities to actually HELP VZ when he could ramp up the pressure against Chavez and Maduro?

    He does this with a true Freedom Fighter taking the oath, dumping an incredible problem on his predecessor.

    Santos is worthless.

      • Unlike illegal aliens in the US that chose to enter furtively and remain noncitizens to avoid contributing to the economy, boosting growth and paying those pesky taxes?

      • Gotta go with Canuckles on this one. I wish the U.S. would adapt a similar program. The simple fact is the U.S. is at full employment now, and, increased productivity notwithstanding, future economic growth will only happen if more workers are made available.

        Good for LatAm, good for the U.S.A.

        • The United States is awash with citizens who do not WANT to work for any job they feel is “beneath them”.
          Latin America is awash is citizens who will do ANY work for damn near ANY price.

          1. Open our borders to allow more legal SAFE immigration from Latin America.
          2. Pull the taxpayer tit from the mouths of those lazy POS Americans who keep making excuses for not working. No more SNAP. No more Section 8 housing. It isn’t the taxpayers responsibility to ensure that every deadbeat has an awesome life experience.

          There. I fixed America.

  2. I really hope that this humanitarian gesture by Colombia does not eventually bite them in tthe butt. I would think that many/most of these refugees detest Maduro but still have admiration for Chavez. They will settle in Colombia and eventually will start voting either legally or illegally for candidates like Petro who was a friend of Chavez. The cancer is already present in Colombia but this I am afraid that this will only serve to strengthen the Cancer’s voting base

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