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Lina Arroyave: “Diplomatic and commercial relations are not the only ones that must be restored” | Today news

Researcher Lina Arroyave works on migration issues. She admits that there is still a lot of uncertainty regarding the migration agenda of the new government.

Photo: The Spectator – Óscar Pérez

Lina Arroyave, a researcher on migration issues at Dejusticia, admits that the reopening of the border with Venezuela was something that was eventually going to happen, since the arrival of Armando Benedetti as Colombian ambassador in Caracas signaled a more formal reestablishment of relations bilateral.

“The reopening of the border could be seen coming”, because although there was secrecy about it in the campaign, and migration “went from crouching” during the elections, the appointment of Germán Umaña Mendoza as Minister of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, after of serving as executive president of the Colombo-Venezuelan Chamber, was a strong indication of this, according to what he says.

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The reopening of the border was announced after the reestablishment of military relations was announced and after the meeting in the state of Táchira where the governments of Colombia and Venezuela coordinated the appointment of ambassadors and the opening of consulates. This was essential to protect people’s rights.

According to Laura Cristina Dib Ayesta, director of the Legal Clinic for Migrants at the Universidad de los Andes, “the lack of this type of space in Colombia has meant that nationals from other countries, not just from Venezuela, including Nigeria, do not have with the protection that every person should have abroad.” According to her, the registration and notary procedures, such as the registration of a child of Venezuelan parents born here or the renewal of passports, have been truncated in the absence of said institution.

Now, speaking as a Venezuelan and moving away from her role as director of the clinic, she admits that she has doubts that “the reestablishment of diplomatic relations will necessarily translate into the existence of a consulate that fulfills its obligations towards nationals.” . If it is complex for us to access apostilled documents to the passports themselves in Venezuela, imagine if abroad we are going to have that protection”.

And just as Dib Ayesta is skeptical about this area of ​​Colombian-Venezuelan relations, which are already taking a new direction, in this interview Arroyave admits that she also has some doubts regarding the reopening of the border and its relationship with migration management.

On Monday the border with Venezuela will be reopened, what impact can be expected on migration with this decision?

The reopening is something positive, especially for economic development and for the reestablishment of trade relations between the two countries, but there is no clear guideline regarding migration policy: there is not much clarity about what is the migration agenda of this government, because there is little information on the subject and a lot of uncertainty. For example, in whose hands will the work of socioeconomic integration be left? This was being handled by the Border Management, now the Office of Socioeconomic Integration for the Migrant Population, and it is not very clear what will happen to it: is it still at the head of the Administrative Department of the Presidency of the Republic (DAPRE) or will you get out of there?

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Do you think that with this border reopening the migratory flow to Colombia will decrease?

Not necessarily, because, despite the fact that it is said that Venezuela has had an economic rebound and that some of its indicators have improved (for example, its oil production has increased, reaching some 718,000 barrels per day by December 2021, when at the end of 2020 only produced 434,000 barrels a day, and economic growth is forecast that, according to Ecoanalítica, could be 8% of GDP), people continue to leave there. This, given that the causes of the country’s humanitarian, economic, political and social crisis persist, as political persecution and some authoritarian traits in the government continue. In addition, there are those who cross the border to have access to medical treatment that they do not have there.

Behind the reopening of the border there are also humanitarian and security elements, how do you see this?

In the face of human trafficking, it is all the more necessary to have better coordination between both states to prevent the victimization of people who decide to migrate and to sound the alarms where it is known that there are human trafficking points or where there is knowledge of that migrants can be victims of recruitment. In other words, this reopening should not only focus on trade, but also on how to protect those who decide to migrate, since migration is a human right. Colombia must guarantee that not only diplomatic and commercial relations are restored, but also that it must ensure the rights of people who decide to leave Venezuela. The reopening of the border should be a window of opportunity for this.

Regarding the different actors that are on both sides of the border, there are many informal paths within it, since it is very permeable. Perhaps the attempt at dialogue with the ELN guerrillas can be something positive to at least get rid of that armed actor, who has great border control. Now, the point is that there are not only guerrillas there, but also criminal gangs. I don’t know how easy that control is, but the Military Forces are not the most specialized to handle migration. We understand that it is the body that is needed to protect the border, but it does not have officials with the expertise to handle issues with a human rights approach aimed at the migrant population.

The Duque government left the Temporary Protection Statute in place, which gives migrants who benefit from it a margin of 10 years to define their immigration status. From Dejusticia, emphasis has been placed on creating an instance for its monitoring, but there is also talk of improving the refuge and asylum system. Does that have to do with a more sustainable and long-term vision of migration management?

That, on the one hand, but also because they are people who need protection and being recognized as refugees would give them guarantees that the Statute does not. For example, a person who is an applicant for refugee protection and who at the same time submits his application for the Statute, and the latter comes out faster, can choose to keep the Temporary Protection Permit (PPT), since it is the one that allows you to access a job. However, with this he renounces the condition of international protection and, consequently, the principle of non-refoulement.

We have already talked about the fact that the border reopening can be a window of opportunity to establish a relationship with Venezuela beyond the commercial, even reaching humanitarian instances. In this sense, could Colombia become a key actor to promote a regional migration policy?

I wish it was like that. The country should continue promoting this leadership and promoting this migration agenda, where the focus is human mobility with a human rights approach. That should be the discourse of this new government: to guarantee the mobility of people at the regional level without a securitization approach. For this reason, it is necessary to continue promoting and strengthening the regional mechanisms that exist on this issue, taking advantage of the Colombian leadership and its experience, with the good and the bad.

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Source: Elespectador

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