Venezuela Weekly: UNHCR Commends Brazil for Recognizing Refugee Status of Venezuelan Migrants

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees congratulated Brazil for recognizing (many) Venezuelan migrants as refugees, based on the Cartagena Declaration of 1984. The Cartagena declaration significantly expands the classic notion of refugee as someone fleeing violence or persecution, to those whose “lives, security or freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.”

This week a delegation of human rights groups including Conectas of Brazil, Dejusticia of Colombia, the Human Rights Coodinator of Peru, the Center for Legal Studies of Argentina, the Center for Human Rights at the UCAB in Venezuela, and WOLA visited the Brazilian state of Roraima to observe the Brazilian government’s efforts to address the migration crisis. See the delegation’s findings in this Twitter thread from Provea as well as the video presentation below by Mariana Romero of the CDH-UCAB.

As David Smilde suggested in this Twitter thread, while fragile and exhibiting some rigidities, the current Brazilian response raises the bar for governments in the region. While it is true that the migration Brazil has received is only a tenth of what Colombia has received, there is no reason the response they have formulated could not be scaled, nor is there any reason it must be carried out by the military. It is based on best practices developed by ACNUR and the OIM over decades of work refugee situations.

  • Meanwhile, Ecuador tightened its immigration regulations after Lenin Morales signed a decree requiring Venezuelan citizens to enter the country with a visa. The decree offers the opportunity to many Venezuelans that are in the country to regularize their status by adopting a temporary residence.

Back to Barbados

  • Norwegian-mediated negotiations between the interim government of Juan Guaidó and the defacto government of Nicolás Maduro will resume this week, according to the local press. Guaido said the Norwegians themselves would announce when the meetings will take place. This comes after approximately two weeks of consultations by each side with their respective leaders in Caracas.
  • The Center for Political Studies of the UCAB organized a video press-conference with Abraham Lowenthal and David Smilde to talk about the possibilities for a negotiated solution (see coverage in elpitazo.com and Cronica.uno). Lowenthal drove home how unlikely U.S. military intervention is. Smilde emphasized that it is common for there to be a series of failed efforts at dialogue and negotiation but that it is important for them to be cumulative, with each attempt taking into account previous efforts.
  • Maduro’s Supreme Court nullified the National Assembly’s decision to return Venezuela to the Rio Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR) saying that the reinstatement is illegal. Constituent Assembly President (ANC) Diosdado Cabello said that if necessary the ANC could lift the immunity of the deputies that voted in favor of the TIAR.

International Support for Maduro

  • The Maduro government held a two day ministerial summit in Caracas, of the 120 country Non-Aligned Movement (NAM- Venezuela is president until October). Despite condemnation of U.S. sanctions, support for dialogue processes between the opposition and the government, and pledges and promises for cooperation between the members of the NAM, the summit did not offer any practical or substantial help to Maduro’s government.
  • The government also held and financed a four-day international meeting in Caracas, the XXV Sao Paulo Forum, with the presence of many parties, organizations, and individuals sympathetic to Maduro’s regime. Sponsoring such a large scale event in the context of a humanitarian emergency unsurprisingly brought denunciations.

Human Rights

  • Venezuelan human rights organization Foro Penal Venezolano reported that there were 582 political prisoners in the country on July 26, down from the 773 in June. It is unclear if the release of the prisoners relates to the negotiations in Barbados or it is because of the highly critical for the Maduro’s government inform of the High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet (or both).
  • José Graziano da Silva, director of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), said there has been a “dizzying increase” in hunger in Venezuela. He said that FAO’s estimation of 2016-2018 Venezuela has 21.2% of the population in a situation of undernourishment. In 2013, Maduro’s first year of government, the FAO reported only 6.4% of the population in the state of food insecurity.

Violence

  • The Socialist Party (PSUV) and various organizations sympathetic to the government have expressed outrage over over the violent death of six peasants, members to Chavista peasant movements, apparently at the hands of Colombian paramilitaries.
  • A heavy shootout between a local gang and the police left four police officers injured last week in the working class sector of Cota 905 in Caracas, where deadly confrontations between the police and gangs are frequent.

 Economy

  • A U.S. federal appeals court rejected the appeal of PDVSA against Crystallex’s right to seize parts of Citgo. Crystallex won a $1.4 billion compensation from an international arbitration last year. Guaidó’s interim government now controls Citgo and Guaidó said they would “take all legal measures necessary to challenge this decision.”
  • Chevron and four other U.S. oil services companies managed to get a three months waiver from the U.S. government in order to continue with their operations in Venezuela.
  • India has emerged as the biggest buyer of Venezuela’s crude in the post-US sanctions period. In June 2019 India’s import of Venezuelan crude hit a 21 month high with 475,200 BPD, doubling the previous months imports. The surge stems from delayed cargoes from the previous month and the fact that the Russian oil giant, Rosneft exports to India part of the oil it receives from Venezuela.