Venezuelan Refugees in Colombia?

From Colombia millions of people arrived in Venezuela, fleeing political and paramilitary violence.

While the highest world authority dealing with refugees, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, or UNHCR, defines a refugee as a person who "owing to a well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion," the Colombian government is beginning to use this well-defined category in recent months and apply it to Venezuelans migrating for economic reasons and who, in their vast majority, are of a clear middle class profile.

Contrary to the misuse of this category that is conducted from the Colombian side, in Venezuela, for more than 30 years, there have been more than five million refugees living there and who have come from Colombia. Just in 2013 more than 189,000 came into the country and in 2014, 144,000 according to official data presented by President Nicolas Maduro.

From Colombia millions of people arrived in Venezuela, fleeing political and paramilitary violence that attacked them for belonging to a particular social group or having a political opinion —a factor that does, in fact, place them in the category of refugees established by the U.N.

In this sense, trying to deliberately confuse a refugee with a migrant for economic reasons is part of the same maneuver that Secretary General Luis Almagro is using from the Organization of American States, or OAS, to simulate a situation of chaos, human rights violations and lawlessness in Venezuela that justify plans for U.S. intervention in the country.

In its latest report, the OAS used this category to make a narrative of a "Failed State" in Venezuela that might enable the execution of the "military option" mentioned by U.S. President Donald Trump.

This scenario, filled with misuse of language, political maneuvering, and many contradictions, with spokespersons of Santos’ government having a leading role in recent days when they announced that they were getting camps ready for Venezuelan refugees in case there was "a possible migratory crisis."

They asked for help from the diplomatic representation of Turkey, but details available so far show that so far, the Turkish government has set limits on dealing with the request of the Colombian government and does not appear to have taken any serious steps in the matter.

It is important to bear in mind that it is neither a bad time in the Venezuela-Turkey relationship nor is it the best time of the relations of Turkey with the U.S. and NATO. So the appearance on TV of Turkish representatives in "collaboration" with the Colombian government, probably is intended to fuse the image of Venezuela with that of Syria for the narrative that the U.S. needs so as to activate their methods of "humanitarian" intervention.

The most noticeable part of the story bearing the title "Colombia gets refugee camps ready for Venezuelans" is that it finally reveals that neither Turkey nor the UNHCR recommended these camps which have been insisted on by Juan Carlos Restrepo, the Security Adviser to the Presidency of the Republic with the largest number of displaced people in the world.

“Refugee Camps” –a new front created by Colombia to attack Venezuela

The same contradictory personality provides the following curious fact when he says that 70 percent of people who are crossing the Colombo-Venezuelan border were born in Colombia and are part of families called "mixed." That is to say, a large part the remaining 30 percent belongs to families formed by Colombians in Venezuela and this numerical reality is evidence of the political background of this maneuver.

Firstly, because any son or daughter of a Colombian who is born abroad, according to Colombian laws, has the right to be considered Colombian as soon as he legally declares his willingness to do so.

Secondly, because more than one migratory movement of foreigners would be talking about the return of those who emigrated from Colombia. Again the Colombian government operates outside the definition of refugees given by the UNHCR, as this only applies to those who are outside the country of their nationality. In strict terms of how far the "refugee camp" has been presented, would not be for Venezuelans, but for Colombians who return to their country.

If anyone in Latin America knows the difference between a displaced person, a refugee and a migrant, it is the Colombian government and people. Colombia has the sad honor of being, according to official figures from the UNHCR, the country with the largest number of displaced people in the world.

With 7.4 million, it has 1 million more than Syria and it doubles the number of displaced people in Iraq, but in addition, as stated in the official statistics of the UN, one of every ten Colombians is living outside their country of birth.

This transforms the neighboring country, according to the International Organization for Migrants, into the country with the highest number of emigrants in Latin America, and 20% of these have been crossing into Venezuela for decades.

With vast experience, this confusion cannot be put down to the misuse of language to justify what the Colombian government is doing. Filling the borders with refugee camps would only benefit the intervention strategy that Almagro as an operator of US diplomacy is striving to sustain, but in terms of security it could even justify the sending of UN Peacekeepers on the border. These UN troops would be tasked with protecting these civilians and it could eventually lead to the Colombo-Venezuelan border being turned into an area of conflict.

The stated intention of the US is to take the Venezuelan case to the UN Security Council using the pretext of a "humanitarian crisis". This could be announced as a joint operation and combined longer term with Colombian support. At least this looks like what is being suggested.

Juan Carlos Restrepo told the press: "We have the logistics ready and from where we are going to manage them". So the sharpening of this maneuver, which for the time being has little to do with the strictness and adherence to the definition of refugee categories and procedures of the United Nations, is attempting to transform an overblown situation into a new external front to attack Venezuela.


First published in Mision Verdad on Oct. 6, 2017.

Translate by Arturo Rosales from Axis of Logic.

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