On October 5, the US announced that it would resume deportations of Venezuelan citizens who do not have a legal basis to remain in that country. In this regard, the Secretary of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, stated that it is “safe” for Venezuelans who arrived in the United States after July 31 to return to their country of origin. This is the same Mayorkas who, on September 21, 2023, had announced the extension for 18 months of the temporary protected status (TPS) for the Venezuelan population who had arrived in the United States before August 31 “due to extraordinary and temporary conditions in Venezuela that prevent people from returning safely.”
Given two such close and contradictory announcements by the same Biden administration official, it is worth asking what safe means and how did the security criteria regarding Venezuela change in a matter of weeks?
The official propaganda according to which “Venezuela is fixed” proved to have fragile and unsustainable foundations over time. This short and artificial fantasy quickly crashed into a reality that continues to severely hit the majority of the Venezuelan population and that has so far caused the departure of 7.8 million inhabitants.
The endless lines to buy gasoline have returned and the blackouts and “bajones” (abrupt fluctuations in the electricity load that ruin appliances and other electrical equipment) have also returned, adding to the so-called “scheduled power outages” that last several hours each day.
In the main hospital of Valencia, Carabobo state alone, six children died in the first week of October due to the application of an antibiotic that caused allergic reactions. In all public hospitals, patients are still required to purchase a long list of supplies to perform surgery, including everything from hydrogen peroxide, gowns, gloves and masks for doctors, to scalpels and sutures.
The minimum wage is at US$3.70, which means a lower level than when the US administration agreed to TPS for the Venezuelan population.
Irregular armed groups of various types continue to proliferate and control territory, affecting the rights of inhabitants and generating difficulties in accessing humanitarian aid, as confirmed by a recent AlertaVenezuela report.
There are no guarantees for free elections. On the contrary, the government is taking different measures to prepare a restrictive scenario towards the 2024 presidential elections that includes the reactivation of armed groups and other grassroots groups with dissuasive capabilities towards voters, an increase in arrests and torture, a new attack against the few remaining independent media and against the union sector. Furthermore, Venezuela is the only “left-wing” government that dismantled the historic Communist Party of Venezuela. This is the largest escalation against civic space, which was recorded in the most recent report of the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission (FFM), created by the UN Human Rights Council.
All of the above continues to occur within the framework of a total absence of the rule of law, where people feel defenseless, due to the lack of independence of the judiciary, the Prosecutor’s Office and the Ombudsman’s Office, as the FFM has also noted.
It is surprising that a senior US official affirms that it is “safe” to return to Venezuela, not only because of the panorama already described, but because the country continues to be classified by the State Department in category 4, that is, the highest level of risk, “due to crimes, civil unrest, kidnappings and the arbitrary application of local laws”, which is why it recommends that US citizens “reconsider travel due to unjust detentions, terrorism and poor health infrastructure”. If travel is unavoidable, it is still recommended to write a will, bring your own prescription and non-prescription medications, and purchase medical evacuation insurance. Why is Venezuela safe for Venezuelans but not for US citizens when the security level has not even dropped from category 4 to 3?
There is talk of negotiations between the Maduro and Biden governments behind the scenes, which is not negative since negotiation and dialogue are necessary to overcome any conflict situation and should not always be public. However, no negotiation can renounce the defense of democratic principles and human rights. Stating that Venezuela is – within a few weeks – a destination of safe return is unacceptable and unjustifiable from the perspective of human rights.
It cannot be safe to deport citizens who are placed directly in the hands of the government. There are plenty of cases of deported people who have been tortured, criminalized and accused of being traitors to the country. Did Venezuela promise the US to protect the rights of deportees? And, if that had been the case, can those who murdered Fernando Albán be believed when he returned from the US 5 years ago? Albán’s simulated suicide was not credible to the US justice system, where a court agreed to a million-dollar compensation for his family. Can you believe those who have just made a student, John Álvarez, lose sight in one eye, subjected to torture? Can you believe the only government in the region investigated for crimes against humanity? AlertaVenezuela expresses its alarm at the forced normalization of systematic and widespread violations of human rights by some democratic countries. Although we are in favor of exhausting all peaceful means and dialogue with the participation of the international community to