“We cannot make the Venezuelan crisis a new normal. It is essential that we Venezuelans tell why more than 5 million of us have had to flee from the complex humanitarian emergency, from the persecution and the dictatorship, because by telling our story, telling that we have to go to bed without eating, get up without light or water, explaining to the world what we have had to live through in the last years is the most powerful tool to achieve greater attention and greater political pressure to restore the democratic order”. This is what David Smolansky, the Commissioner of the OAS General Secretariat for the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees, warned this Thursday as a guest of ‘Plan País Presente en Vivo’.
Therefore, one of the fundamental tasks of his office has been to make visible the Venezuelan crisis, the tragedy and pain caused by the dictatorship that has led more than 5 million Venezuelans to flee, even on foot or in peñeros (small boats), from the most serious complex humanitarian emergency in the history of the region.
The second task has been to promote policies to assist, protect and help displaced Venezuelans around the world.
“We have fought for the world to recognize the broader concept of what a refugee is, as established in the Cartagena Declaration, so that Venezuelans are considered as such and their integration into other countries can be facilitated. Brazil has already taken it on and Mexico has been doing so. We have also worked so that Venezuelans around the world can use their expired documents as a result of the impossibility of renewing them.
Smolansky explained that the importance of working for Venezuelan migrants lies not only in helping their compatriots, but also in the fact that in the long term they will play a fundamental role in the reconstruction of Venezuela. “We have seen examples like Bosnia or Croatia where displaced people returned to rebuild their nations. That is what we want for Venezuela and we are working on it now.”
The Commissioner gave details of examples around the world that the Legitimate Government has been reviewing to encourage the return of Venezuelans once political change is achieved. “In the OAS working groups we have determined that the first condition for migrants to return is that democracy returns. But we have also seen clear examples of how to encourage their return by generating incentives such as repatriation funds or tax benefits for nurses, doctors, journalists and engineers to come and be part of the reconstruction.”
Raising Our Voices
Smolansky rejected the stigmatization that spokespersons for the regime have made of the 50,000 Venezuelans who, facing the pandemic, have decided to return to the country and reported that they have taken denunciations to the highest levels of the OAS and the UN the of the cruel and degrading treatment they have received from the dictatorship, threatening their physical, emotional and psychological integrity.
“Any citizen of the world has the right to return to his or her country. However, we see a regime that has left thousands of migrants stranded because it has closed the possibility of receiving humanitarian flights, but has been permissive with those who bring or carry gold, drugs or engage in other illegal activities,” criticized the Commissioner of the OAS General Secretariat.
Faced with this scenario, Smolansky reiterated: “Let us hold no doubt that the only, not the best, not one of them, but the only solution for Venezuelans to stop leaving their country is to achieve the return of democracy. In order to achieve this, we are working day in and day out from the Legitimate Government”, he ended.