Venezuela urges countries of the region to articulate joint actions to fight smuggling of migrants

The Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela called on the Latin American countries, especially its neighbors, to articulate joint actions to dismantle criminal groups involved in the smuggling of migrants, a crime that has increased amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the 10th Session of the Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, held via video conference of the United Nations in Vienna, Eulalia Tabares, director of the Office for Consular Relations of the Ministry of People’s Power for Foreign Affairs, ratified Venezuela’s commitment to fighting this crime with the cooperation of appropriate international organizations.

“We expect to rely on the collaboration of the UNODC (United Nations Office on Drugs and Cirme) and other international organizations to jointly assess ways to deepen technical assistance and foster the capacity of our agents dedicated to planning and implementing public policies in order to prevent and fight the smuggling of migrants,” said Tabares.

Devastating effects of coercive measures

Tabares highlighted that the smuggling of migrants “has left behind a regrettable number of thousands of human beings, who, as a result of the tragedy of war, political destabilization, poverty, terrorism and violence hitting vast regions of the world, have been pushed to fall in the hands of smuggling networks and have even died in an attempt to have opportunities to afford a worthy life for them and heir families.”

The Venezuelan director of Consular Relations stressed that in the case of Venezuela, due to the application of unilateral coercive measures by the United States and its allies that have hit the country’s economy, “an atypical mobilization took place with a migratory flow to different geographically close countries in the region (…), encouraged by transit and destination countries as the migration could occur without travel documents, and in some cases,  without ID documents.”

Likewise, Tabares added that once the so-called “humanitarian aid” was staged to “assist” Venezuelan migrants and strengthen the “humanitarian crisis” hypothesis in the country, the receiving states started demanding visas, automatically turning them into potential victims of traffickers.

“When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, xenophobia, racism and intolerance against Venezuelan migrants were fueled. In addition, problems in accessing health services, job loses, reduction of working days and evictions made thousands of Venezuelan migrants return to their country through the southwestern borders despite their closure,” she said.

Massive return

According to the Venezuelan government’s official figures, more than 95,000 people have returned to the country amid the global sanitary emergency and in the face of the  great disinterest shown by the authorities of some countries in coordinating actions with Venezuela to guarantee the safe return of Venezuelans, many of whom were forced to use illegal channels and resort to criminal groups operating on the border, particularly the one with Colombia and Ecuador.

In this regard, Tabares recalled that President Nicolás Maduro “has urged the authorities of neighboring countries to coordinate actions on the borders amid the pandemic on many occasions, and has even requested the intermediation of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). Unfortunately, there has been no response to the reiterated calls made by the Venezuelan authorities in this regard.”

She highlighted that despite the difficulties caused by the economic impact of sanctions, the Venezuelan Government is carrying out operations to protect its territory and has kept its borders open to receive Venezuelan nationals by following the WHO sanitary protocols. In addition, the Bolivarian Government implemented the Vuelta a la Patria Plan, which has enabled the return of 84,726 Venezuelans.

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