Washington, – The growing number of Venezuelans who cross the border with Colombia daily face extortion practices by armed groups “protected by the regime of Nicolás Maduro,” David Smolansky, coordinator of a working group on the migration from Venezuela.
According to Smolansky, founder of the Venezuelan Voluntad Popular party, in which the opponents Leopoldo López and Juan Guaidó are militant, these criminal gangs ask the migrants for a dollar each time they cross the border and, in addition, extort them to give them part of the foods or medicines that you bring with you.
The former mayor of the municipality of El Hatillo Caracas made these statements at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), in Washington, after visiting in Colombia Cúcuta and Bogotá and travel to Lima, to prepare a report on the situation of Venezuelans who They ask for asylum in other countries of the region.
“The main challenges (of migrants) are the health situation of people with problems of malaria, tuberculosis and HIV,” said Smolansky.
In addition to health, the Venezuelan politician considered that the lack of security is a problem for migrants, many of whom cross the Táchira River daily, which forms the natural border between Colombia and Venezuela.
“Thousands of Venezuelans cross the river every day, including pregnant women, people with disabilities or wheelchairs and children,” said Smolansky, warning that these people “put their lives at risk” to buy medicines and food.
The politician said that since February 23 there has been a significant increase in the number of migrants fleeing Venezuela, although he considered it difficult to specify the number of Venezuelans who cross the border every day.
“We believe that all the conditions exist for Venezuelan migrants to be given refugee status under the principles of the 1984 Cartagena Declaration,” he said.
Likewise, Smolansky expressed his wish that the United States approve the Temporary Protection Status (TPS) for Venezuelans, which in the past Washington has applied to migrants from countries in conflict or victims of natural disasters.
“They are people who want to work and the youngest ones to study,” he said, “would have a beneficial impact for everyone.”
According to the latest report of the International Organization for Migration (IOM), up to April some 3.7 million people had left Venezuela, and more than 3 million were received under different programs or conditions in Latin American and Caribbean countries. (EFEUSA)