News and opinions on situation in Venezuela

Venezuelan asylum seekers soar in five years … to 0.011% of the population!

VHeadline commentarist Carlos Herrera writes: Placing uncalled for exaggeration on simple facts is one of the hallmarks of the “information war” being waged in the internet by opposition groups rabidly opposed to the democratic regime of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

One of the most gifted exponents of this tactic in A.M Mora y Leon who recently postulated the absurd argument that the closing of La Carlota airbase to private air traffic meant that the “noose was tightening” around Lady Liberty’s neck in Venezuela.

This overstated bunkum was refuted in the VHeadline article La Carlota airbase closed for private aircraft – who does it affect? and now we have another attempt by the same individual by his blind acceptance of a report from the Spanish EFE news agency … reported in Miami’s El Nuevo Herald … interpreting the increase in political asylum applications from Venezuela to the US as being due to:

The main reason Venezuelans leave our country is that human rights are systematically violated there,” George Washington University Professor Robert Carmona-Borjas, who was granted asylum in 2002, told El Nuevo Herald.

This Professor Roberto Carmona-Borjas is entitled to his baseless opinion, but as far as I know, the Venezuelan government has not been sanctioned in any international court for violating human rights, even though there have been many brazen attempts by opposition lawyers to have cases brought before the Real Audiencia de Espana and the International Court of Justice in The Hague .. all of which have either been filed away or thrown out of court.

It is one thing to say that human rights are being violated, it is another to prove this in a court of law. In addition, the two media mentioned by Mora y Leon … EFE and El Nuevo Herald … have never been averse to publishing half-truths about Venezuela as part of the sustained international campaign of discrediting Chavez and his government, for being amongst other things “communist” (a favorite phrase of Mora y Leon).

The figures indicated from the US Bureau of Citizenship & Immigration Service are that 2,721 Venezuelans applied for political asylum from 1999 to 2004 which is a staggering 0.011% of the population, based on a ball park figure of 24 million living in Venezuela.

The trend of applications had indeed been rising from 1999 onwards and this is really insignificant, if we are talking about 0.011% as a real tangible percentage since this effectively is based on a country’s population … and not on a statistical base of 18 asylum applicants in 1999, which spirals up to 400% over five years, reaching a frightening total of 2.721.

This 400% percentage highlighted by Mora y Leon does not mean a lot … and is about as significant as the number of rich people with private aircraft in Venezuela (see the “La Carlota” article).

In stark contrast to other Latin American nations, immigrants from Venezuela to the USA tend to be the monied middle classes, and not the poor from, say Ecuador or El Salvador, seeking a better life as they are basically “economic refugees.”

My suspicion is that many of the 2,721 Venezuelan applicants are people who had lost their ill-gained privileges under the Chavez government and were no longer able to live on the back of the state via trafficking of influences, soft loans which were never paid back with their “mates” in power during the IV Republic.

Now … and worst of all from their point of view … the IRS/Seniat is breathing down their necks, as they are now subject to a penal tax law (i.e. jail time) instead of a financial slap on the wrist.

For the Mora y Leon‚s of this world, this is tantamount to “violation of human rights” … how far out of step with reality can this person be?

There are many more Venezuelans in this situation … in fact there are many thousands who lived at the margin of the law, committing “white collar crimes” as a way of life, and so 2,721 applicants is very few … even by this definition. (The best two examples of this breed of Venezuelan are ex-Presidents Carlos Andres Perez and Jaime Lusinchi).

It would be interesting to compare this number of asylum seekers to the US with the hundreds of thousands of Colombians seeking refuge and/or asylum in Zulia and Apure States, fleeing from the terror inspired by irregular armed groups. This is the second most serious refugee problem in the world right now, after the crisis in Darfur (Sudan), and has been going on for many years.

Venezuela’s government does not simply throw these people back across the border into the jaws of the terrorists, but ensures that they have minimal living conditions and can live in safety.

This is the application of the humanistic 1999 Bolivarian Constitution … and is a far more accurate reflection of the dynamics of human rights in action and the attitude of the Venezuelan government to the excluded and dispossessed, when compared to a few private airplane owners and less than 3,000 asylum applicants to the US, whose human rights had not been violated anyway – only in the hearsay of the opposition, or because of wild allegations and unsubstantiated reports that “some of the Venezuelan applicants had been physically attacked or threatened with physical attack in their country.”

All this hearsay “evidence” published in historically anti-Chavez and anti-Venezuelan media, is systematic of EFE’s and El Nuevo Herald editorial line towards Venezuela.

To take this seriously, we need times, dates, the names and cedulas of the people threatening these individuals.

It is simply not good enough to make wild statements and expect everyone to swallow this media-inspired garbage.

When reading these sort of reports in the internet, the only advice I can give is Caveat Emptor.

Carlos Herrera

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