The political leader, Leopoldo López, thanked the Government of Colombia for the approval of the Temporary Protection Statute for Venezuelan Migrants that allows them to regularize their situation through identification and grants a temporary protection permit lasting 10 years, during which time they can also opt for a resident visa.
Almost 60% of Venezuelans who are in Colombian territory are in an irregular immigration situation, that’s why Leopoldo López expressed his gratitude on behalf of all: “We Venezuelans deeply thank the Colombian Government for granting temporary protection status to more than 1.7 million people. Our brothers who went to Colombia fleeing the deep humanitarian crisis caused by Nicolás Maduro’s dictatorship.”
López emphasized the importance that Venezuelans, who fled the country in conditions of extreme vulnerability, now have a deserved protection. “I was in Colombia in December and what struck me the most was the visit to Cúcuta. There were thousands of Venezuelans clamoring for immigration status. We met with the NGOs that work day by day with the most vulnerable migrants and their concern was, precisely, to regularize these Venezuelans in order to remove them from illegality, those tens of thousands of people who were crossing the border without documents, without the possibility of to have access to the formal labor market, which made them fall into the clutches of irregular groups of all kinds, ranging from paramilitaries and guerrillas, but also prostitution, trafficking in women and different structures of the illegality were Venezuelans migrants are an easy target due to their vulnerability of not having a legal status that would protect them. Now this helps them to stabilize themselves and to have greater control over this situation that will not change, unfortunately, until there is a political change in Venezuela,” he said.
López also highlighted the position taken by the Government of President Duque as “An example that I hope can be heard and understood by the rest of the Latin American countries and I believe that Colombia is at the forefront, including the United States and Europe, in migration matters, in a way that is respectful of human rights and the dignity of migrants and also respectful of the country that receives them.”
Simultaneous punishment of human rights violators in Venezuela
Leopoldo López reiterated the need for international support, both to face the humanitarian crisis suffered by Venezuelans, and to achieve free elections in the country. “The origin of the Venezuelan migratory crisis is not a warlike conflict, nor a natural disaster, it is a crisis created by a corrupt and criminal dictatorship which has caused millions of Venezuelans to leave the country, and that is why it is essential to maintain the pressure to build a path towards free, fair and verifiable presidential and parliamentary elections in Venezuela,” he said.
According to López, that international support would consist of sanctioning the people identified as human rights violators in Venezuela. “A very clear message would be a simultaneous sanction between the US and Europe, against those who order and against those who execute these human rights violations. Right now, there are more than 350 Venezuelan political prisoners and there are people who are being tortured and persecuted by Nicolás Maduro’s regime.”
Finally, the political leader reiterated that the serious crisis that the country is going through is not ideological: “There is no more basic commitment than a commitment to freedom and human rights and that is why we are working to unify a strategy, both within and outside Venezuela, to achieve that objective of free, fair and verifiable elections in Venezuela. To that end we ask for the support of all countries, because this is not an ideological issue, because to have an ideological position on public policy you first have to have Freedom.”