Photo: Human Rights Watch retrieved

In case there was any doubt that the regime’s official policy on migration is denial and humiliation, a press conference last Monday confirmed it: Delcy and Jorge Rodríguez called the ongoing migrant crisis “fake news” and a “media attack” against Venezuela, carried out via social media. It was “Alternativefactland” at its best.

Luckily, and contradicting the regime’s version of reality, that same day Human Rights Watch published a remarkable report describing the depth and complexities of the Venezuelan migrant crisis, as well as its undeniable impact throughout the region.

While the Rodríguez siblings affirm that Venezuela is the second South American country receiving most migrants in the region, HRW confirms that, according to UNHCR figures, more than 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country between 2014 and 2017. Almost half of them don’t have the legal permits to stay or work at their destinations.

The report argues that most of those on the move are not just migrants in search of opportunities, they’re citizens whose situation makes them unable or unwilling to return; complexities are associated to the country’s economic, human rights, political, social and humanitarian crises, critical issues that make them eligible for the refugee status according to international standards (especially the 1984 Cartagena Declaration, which defines refugees as those escaping “massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order”). The UN Refugee agency (UNHCR) is focusing on that, saying that “ the broad circumstances leading to the outflow of Venezuelan nationals fall within the spirit of the Cartagena Declaration, with a resulting rebuttable presumption of international protection needs.” On this, HRW asks states to “carefully consider (…) the extent to which their laws give rise to valid claims of protection by Venezuelans who have fled the country for humanitarian reasons rooted in the ongoing crisis.”

“More than 2.3 million Venezuelans have left the country between 2014 and 2017. Almost half of them don’t have the legal permits to stay or work at their destinations.”

But until these standards are reviewed and applied, Venezuelans will keep facing hurdles in the different countries they settle in. First, they have to cross the border. If you have relatives or friends in Venezuela, you know that getting a passport can be next to impossible (the report reckons a two-year waiting period). Visa restrictions also stand in the way. Chile, for example, requires Venezuelans to apply for a visa from within Venezuela, with a valid passport, “effectively closing the door to many.” Several other countries, like the United States, Panama and Honduras have similar visa requirements.

Once out of Venezuela, getting legal permits to live and work in the new country is the next big challenge. Those who don’t succeed are vulnerable to abuse, sexual and labor exploitation and human trafficking. Reviewing responses to the migrant crisis, the Caribbean subregion emerges in the report as the least sympathetic with the migrants’ plight. No Caribbean country has officially adopted a special permit for Venezuelans to legally stay and most of the countries lack laws to regulate the asylum-seeking process. The situation in the countries most affected by the influx (Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba and Curaçao) is worrisome: discrimination, verbal and physical harassment, detention in inhumane conditions (sometimes indefinitely) and deportation even of those with UNHCR-issued asylum seeker and refugee certificates. HRW says it received credible reports of arrests of people who “look Venezuelan.”

Isabel González was detained during a raid in Trinidad and Tobago while she was delivering a bag of food for her 4-year-old son that fellow Venezuelans were taking back home. She had no permit to stay, but did have a UNHCR-issued asylum certificate. An immigration judge sentenced her to a year in detention, or pay the equivalent to US$ 2,700. She remains prisoner at a maximum-security jail.

“Reviewing responses to the migrant crisis, the Caribbean subregion emerges in the report as the least sympathetic with the migrants’ plight.”

Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Chile and Argentina are the top five countries where Venezuelans have migrated to. Outside South America, the two countries most affected by the Venezuelan exodus are the United States and Spain. In April 2018, Venezuela appeared for the first time on the list of the top five countries of asylum applicants in the European Union, with the largest number arriving to Spain (more than 40,000 between 2016 and 2017 alone). While roughly half of asylum requests were granted in the U.S. between 2011 and 2016, in Spain only 1% of asylum seekers have obtained protection.

The HRW’s recommendations are rooted in today’s indisputable fact that the crisis has gained regional proportions. To ensure protection for Venezuelan migrants, the report says, a “collective and concerted” response is required, including a region-wide temporary protection regime grating Venezuelans legal status for fixed periods of time, as well as a regional mechanism to cover the financial burden on hosting nations. Some of these recommendations were echoed in the Quito Declaration adopted on Tuesday by several countries in the region, after a two-day meeting on the crisis.

The report makes a welcomed plea to address the exodus’ roots, so that Venezuelans don’t have to flee their country. HRW suggests sanctions targeting the regime’s officials, but international pressure is just one part of the equation. Internally, political options and actors have faded behind a cloud of uncertainty and fear, only to be replaced by a fractured opposition and its mad bickering and witch hunt, that often plays out on social media.

Venezuelans in and out of the country are in political orphanhood: no government looks out for us, ensuring our basic rights; no political leaders accompany and guide us in these dark moments; and no statesmen (and women) are capable of drawing a realistic plan and mobilize the necessary support to bring about the political change the nation yearns.

Without realistic perspectives of a shift in the current situation, we can expect many more Venezuelans to flee.

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22 COMMENTS

  1. “Without realistic perspectives of a shift in the current situation, we can expect many more Venezuelans to flee.”

    I think this is the key. Fleeing is the only choice in the foreseeable future.

    And some of us (including me) should be paying more attention…studying the details…and using our voices, energies and opinions…

    To push governments to accept the migrants.

    As of today, that’s real easy for me to say in the U.S., because the numbers are really minuscule here. Colombia and other neighboring nations, of course, that’s another story.

  2. Every now and then, something happens in the states which makes me so proud to be an American. Like this week’s televised confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh.

    Days of non-stop questioning to confirm ONE judge, whereas Maduro just appointed a gaggle of them while taking a shit and eating an arepa!

    What a fucking contrast.

  3. As an American taxpayer I think I have done my share to help Colombia pull back from the brink. I think the country is still in a fragile and delicate political state. So I wonder what a huge influx of Venezuelans will have. Is there a “typical” Vz migrant?

    Will he/she be profoundly grateful to Colombia for a second chance, and work hard to be a model citizen?

    Or will he/she arrive with a pissed-off, “you-owe-me” attitude, and a portrait of El Galactico to hang on her new wall?

  4. These are all valid points, detailed in this article, but the question remains: What are Venezuelans doing to remedy the situation? While regional efforts are laudable – to manage the crisis that leaps the borders – the internal affairs are still first and foremost the business of Venezuelans. I speak for most of the western world familiar with Venezuela (I lived off and on there for 25 years, still have a house and family there) when I wonder: Will anyone ever step up in their own defense, in defense of a better life. Forget all the high-blown democratic platitudes and guff about rights and justice. Is the pueblo really this licked?

    I’ll never believe this is true, but maybe that’s wishful thinking.

      • Saddly, I gave to agree.

        There is no will to fight and the country is a narcostate. It buys more bullets and AK47s than medicines.

        How many people have seen a gun more often today than a kilo of PAN?

  5. This is when you wonder why it’s do damn hard to fly accurate, deadly, explosive drones right next to the Chavista criminals responsible for so much tragedy. And why no one in the the USA or Europe has the moral integrity and courage to intervene militarily and capture or kill the bastards, which could easily be done in less than 2 weeks. No justice or balls in this freaking world. Damn politicians.

  6. Is it that hard to hire a freaking Sniper with a good rifle? They are accurate as hell from miles away. Bullet in the head for Padrino, another bullet to the evil Rodriguez siblings, perhaps another to Cabello or Tarek or Reverol. Heck, if the sniper just wasted a couple of prominent chavistas with a bullet to the head from 5 miles away, all the rest would start running, shitting their pants, like the woossies they really are.

    Waste them 1 by 1 until they all run and hide, how’s that for a solution. 3 snipers. Cost? Very cheap. From any top floor of any building. Heck, nail ‘la primera combatiente’ with a bullet to the forehead. See how the other Chavista assassins, responsible for Venezuela’s tragedy, react. Snipers and Drones. Y listo el pollo. Until they are scared to death and run.

    Undortunately, all of Kleptozuela’s military and armes forces a PUSSIES, Corrupt PUSSIES to be more exact. Thieves and crooks. All of them. More than 1300 “generals” and every one under their command. Corruptos y gallinas, desalmados. Miles y miles de ellos. Thousands of woosies and thieves. That’s what the Kleptozuelan “armed forces” are all about. Corrupt assassins, directly or indirectly. Not to mention the Thousands of “guardia nacional” or “sebin” or “policia bolibabana”. All crooks, corrupt, responsible for the millions of good people being abused after the were forced to leave the country. They should ALL go to jail, Millions of them, including many “empleados publicos” and millions of leeches, yes, Millions of pueblo people, complicit, corrupt, culpable and responsible for the Venezuelan Genocide and mass Exodus. Presos todos, at the very least, is where they should be. And some of them, like Maduro, Tarek, Padrino or Cabello, shot to the head by a Sniper. That’s what they deserve. Too bad no one has the balls or means to do it among our so-called “bravo pueblo” or form the so-called “international community”. Therefore, nuestro pais y nuestra gente se jodio. No balls, no moral values, no justice, no education = Klepto-Narco Cubazuela.
    and that “International Community”.. yeah right, bunch of useless demagogues and worthless politicians, worldwide. All bullshit talk, zero action. That’s the world we live in. Africa is even worse.

  7. Poeta,

    The record for a sniper kill-shot was set in 2017 by Sergeant C. Head, a Canadian Spec Forces guy in Iraq. 11614 ft, 2.2 miles. Google says it took 10 seconds for the bullet to travel to the target.

    • 1/2 mile away would do it then to waste Masburro, or Cabello, or Tarek or Delcy. Or Rodriguez. ee where the rest hide even after 1 missed shot. The accuracy and the technology exists, and it’s cheap. But no one cares, they are all woosies or corrupt or both. Internationally, ‘ the international community” doesn’t give a flying fuck about Kleptozuela or Africa or Haiti or Nicaragua. Let’s face it. So they are all doomed. For a long long time. Pussies, ignorant, and corrupt. Not all, but most. With some luck, we might be able to visit one day, climb the Avila or go to La Gran Sabana or Choroni, if they haven’t been sold to the Chinese yet.

      Snipers. drones. Or doom for Kleptozuela.

  8. And why no one in the the USA or Europe has the moral integrity and courage to intervene militarily and capture or kill the bastards.
    ——–

    No one wants to make this their problem. That costs billions. And any force barging in there would have to see the clean up through because there’s nobody to step in and “run” anything but another version of the old Venezuela. A sea shift has to happen from within. That might take outside help. Probably will. But the heavy lifting has to be done by Venezuelans. Or not.

    • There is no point in intervention when the alternative is just another group of thugs and criminals who are only “lite-communists”. Or “minor dictators” waiting to pounce.

      Maduro/”Latin American Polpot” is a horrible person. But the MUD leadership is just incompotent. There would be no benefit to the people of VZ at this point.

      Plunging a toilet after there is 3 feet of shit is in the lavatory is not going to do any good. The floors and walls are all rotted and there is no way to get the stink out.

      This is not a national security issue for the Gringos. Trump knows this.

      Why are the VZ people not sneaking into the barios and stealing the guns from the collectivos and slitting their throats? Why must US soldiers be the ones to land on shore and be haeld back by the Geneva convention?

      Stop thinking Uncle Sam is going to come riding in on a tank and deliver justice at the barrel of a cannon. Just Not Going To Happen.

      The MUD hates Trump as much as Maduro and the chavistas.

  9. Does not cost billions. Or even millions. How much do a few snipers and drones cost, or 100 Kleptozuelan “generals”?

    The problem is they are all corrupt or scared to death in Kleptozuela. Internationally, the problem is politics. Hypocrisy, to be more exact. And shitloads of useless bullshit, every week on international media. So they are doomed.

    • Your right, it’s political. The TSJ in excile will not render a ruling to provide Gringos cover if there were military action.

      No way am I sending a family member to fight and be dragged in front of a kangaroo court in some LA rat infested jailhouse.

      “Pottery Barn” politics.. you break it, you own it.

      VZ will just be another hollow Syria or Libya if we get involved now. The time to take action was months ago before the ANC was formalized. But, neither MUD nor the AN or the TSJ in excile would budge.

      Enjoy!!!

  10. nobody complained while there were “cupos”; the dollar was cheap to travel to Europe, there was an endless party, birthday or wedding celebrations in Punta Cana, or Madrid. Now the only criminals are Chavez and Maduro. You have a short memory.

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