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Venezuelans in fear for their lives

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Honourable Major Edmund Dillon,

On behalf of Soy Venezuela, the independent and plural political alliance of our country, we take the liberty to address you, in order to respectfully express our greatest concern for the situation that affects dozens of Venezuelans refugees who have been arbitrarily returned to Venezuela by the authorities of Trinidad and Tobago, disregarding the international norms that regulate the institution of refugees.

The three signatories of this letter are all former ambassadors to the United Nations. We are even more concerned that those Venezuelans have been arrested, ill-treated and returned to their country, without due administrative procedure and without consideration of their human rights, especially the right of every person to seek asylum when their life and physical integrity is in danger, as established in the declarations on Human Rights, in the Refugee Statute of 1950 and in the Geneva Protocol of 1967, a term that is later specified, in 1984, in the Declaration of Cartagena de Indias.

Amnesty International has already expressed similar concerns.

We are sure that you are aware that the Cartagena Declaration of November 22, 1984 states that “the definition or concept of a refugee recommended for use in the region is one that, in addition to containing the elements of the 1951 Convention and the 1967 Protocol, considers also as refugees those people who have fled their countries because their lives, security or freedom have been threatened by widespread violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances that have seriously disrupted the public order”.

Mr Minister, it is public knowledge that those realities are applicable without any doubt to our country that has morphed into a narco state.

It is important to stress that Venezuela was always a territory of asylum, receiving and providing for years, the protection due to massive flows of people fleeing the dictatorships of the Southern Cone and the violence and armed conflicts in the region and even in Europe.

We have received, in previous decades, nationals of many countries of our region, including from of Trinidad and Tobago in particular, displaced by economic reasons.

We understand the impact that such displacements can have, especially in more vulnerable countries that must face their insertion in the social and economic life of their communities, as part of the protection that should be provided to them; but this should be considered in a balanced way between the interests of the host country and the full respect for the international protection standards established in the international instruments to which your country is a party.

Venezuela was always a country of immigrants, not emigrants. Our people loved to live in our country. The situation of Venezuelans requesting protection in these cases is very different from the one that arises in relation to migrations and other displacements of people. Those are very different spaces, regulated by equally different rules and principles. These are people who flee to safeguard their lives, physical integrity, security; who escape from state violence and persecution of a regime that has shown to be harsh to their own people.

The situation of our compatriots fleeing the country requires separating then, for the causes that cause it, the migration issue, the issue of refugees. Those people flee to save their lives and not to improve their economic conditions.

The right to request asylum is an unquestionable human right, recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948. The States have the obligation to consider it properly and to adopt the most convenient decisions, based on national and international standards, in full respect of the human rights of asylum seekers who have been, unfortunately, subjected to degrading treatment, contrary to all international standards.

We are confident that your government will review this serious situation that only the rescue of our freedom will be able to solve.

Milos Alcalay,
Diego Arria,
Víctor Rodríguez Cedeño
Alianza parp La Republica soy Venezuela


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