Venezuela.- More than 4.7 million Venezuelans have left their country to date to escape an unprecedented economic and social crisis, David Smolansky, commissioner of the Organization of American States (OAS) for migrants and Venezuelan refugees.Smolansky pointed out that the exodus could continue to grow and reach 7 million people by the end of 2020 “if the dictatorship” of Nicolás Maduro continues.” The only solution is to dismantle the criminal state that reigns in Venezuela today,” he said in an interview with The Associated Press.
It is a state that promotes the violation of human rights and denies the humanitarian aid offered to it.
The commissioner takes a four-day tour of Colombia in which his team has made working tables with more than 100 Venezuelan migrants. The purpose of these is to ask the migrants why they left their country, how they feel in their new homes and under what conditions they would return to Venezuela.
These testimonies, he explained, will serve to write a report that will detail the reasons behind the migration of the South American nation. The document will be used to reinforce a proposal made six months ago to OAS member countries, whereby the regional organization seeks refugee status to Venezuelan migrants in different countries of the Continent.
The Cartagena declaration (signed in 1984 by several countries in the hemisphere) expands refugee status and says that a refugee is also someone who leaves his country for widespread violence, disruption of public order, violation of human rights or by foreign occupation, Smolansky noted.
“In our opinion all these conditions apply to the Venezuelan who has to go.” Despite these efforts by the OAS, several countries in the region are taking steps to limit the income of Venezuelans.
In e2019, Chile, Peru, Ecuador and the Dominican Republic began imposing visa requirements for Venezuelan citizens as they were overwhelmed by large numbers of migrants entering their territories. The Caribbean islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao also envisage similar measures. In Aruba and Curacao, one-fifth of the population is made up of Venezuelan migrants. Smolansky said his office opposes these policies because they “sharpen” the risks faced by migrants.
Closing the border is opening the logs (illegal steps), he said. In addition, how is a Venezuelan visa asked when the state denies him the right to identity?, he pointed out to refer to the difficulties venezuelans face in obtaining passports in their country.
Smolansky is a renowned opposition leader in Venezuela, where he served as mayor of the municipality of El Hatillo. He fled the country in 2017, after the Supreme Court removed him from office and sentenced him to 15 months in prison for dismissing sentences requiring him to suppress opposition protests in his jurisdiction.