More than 40,000 Venezuelans lose their citizenship card in Colombia from one day to the next | International


File photo dated May 13, 2020 showing two Venezuelan migrants as they walk with their suitcases, in Cali, Colombia.
File photo dated May 13, 2020 showing two Venezuelan migrants as they walk with their suitcases, in Cali, Colombia.ERNESTO GUZMAN JR (EFE)

Yessica Godoy’s voice still breaks when she remembers the two days in a cell after being detained at the El Dorado airport in Bogotá. On the afternoon of January 24, everything happened very quickly. “We had saved a lot for a trip to Barcelona. Everything was cool, perfect. Suddenly the airline employee says ‘her ID is cancelled’. She didn’t understand anything, they send me to Immigration and they verify that they are my fingerprints, my name, my signature, I insist that of course, it’s me. But minutes later they tell me: ‘Ma’am, you are going to be prosecuted’”.

Godoy was born in Venezuela and in 2016, after migrating to the Andean country that has received almost two million Venezuelan migrants, she presented the papers to become a citizen because she is the daughter of a Colombian mother. She obtained her citizenship card, pursued a nursing degree, opened a food business, and now hoped to fulfill her dream of taking a family trip. All with the same document that they told him last January that it was canceled due to “forgery of identity.”

The National Registry of Colombia has canceled 43,000 identification cards for migrant children of Colombians who have been nationalized since 2014. Registrar Alexander Vega argued that they were canceled when purging the electoral census and that they found apparent irregularities, such as falsehoods, adulterations or false witnesses. “A little more than 300,000 civil registries were reviewed, with their respective identity cards, of Venezuelans who entered Colombia from 2014 to date arguing that they had Colombian parents for nationality,” he explained to local media.

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Gabriela Arenas, director of the Learning Workshop for Arts and Thought Foundation (TAAP) and a Venezuelan who also had her ID canceled, says she has collected 5,000 cases in which they are “procedural and administrative errors.” “There are cases like that of a family of five brothers who presented the same witnesses and only one of them had their identity card cancelled, people whose document was annulled due to errors made in the registries, incorrect serial numbers or lack of a number. of folio, topics like that”, he explains.

The problem is that due to the absence of the identity card, many Venezuelans have been detained on the street, there are cancer patients who have not been able to receive medical treatment and businessmen who have their businesses blocked, says Arenas, who has met with officials from the Registry and You have already resubmitted all your documents.

Rodrigo Pérez, national director of civil registration at the Registrar’s Office, told this newspaper that after a six-month analysis with a group of 450 people, they found that 43,000 cases had different problems, such as empty or invalid apostilles. “The only possibility they have is a new registration that meets the legal requirements”, he has responded to this newspaper

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Some of the Venezuelans are redoing the documentation, but they complain that apostilling documents in their country is impossible and they are at a dead end. “The vast majority of people cannot return to Venezuela, many were expelled due to persecution by the Nicolás Maduro regime; others do not have the economic possibility of returning and even if they did return they would not be able to do the apostille process”, adds Gabriela Arenas, who recalls that there was a decree that exempted migrants from apostille these documents.

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The case has generated a total confusion. The Government of Iván Duque has opted during his mandate for the regularization of 1.7 million Venezuelans in Colombia, with the creation of a temporary protection statute, which will be valid for ten years. A gesture that was applauded internationally to welcome the growing Venezuelan migration.

“Surely there are cases of mafias that have sold identities and it is logical that they cancel them, but they are not the vast majority,” says Arenas, who organizes the defense of several of these migrants. While it is resolved, those affected are still afraid to go out on the street. “Now I can’t work, I don’t have an identity and after everything I went through there [detenida] I live scared. And I’m not the only one, “Yessica Godoy denounces that she spent her arrest along with three other Venezuelans at the El Dorado airport.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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