Venezuelan government accuses returning migrants of spreading Covid-19

If, for Donald Trump, the coronavirus is Chinese, for Nicolas Maduro it is Colombian. “We are waging a terrible battle to stop the Colombian virus spreading in Venezuela”, the Venezuelan President launched on July 6 in a television address. By evoking a “Explosion of imported cases”, Maduro accuses his Colombian counterpart and fierce enemy, Ivan Duque, of deliberately wanting “Infect” Venezuela.

For the Chavist government, the thousands of Venezuelan migrants who return to the country represent a health hazard. Interior Minister Nestor Reverol on Thursday “Declared war” return migrants who cross the border clandestinely.

On Twitter, a Jesuit sympathizer of Chavismo, Father Numa Molina, described them as “Bioterrorists”. The Society of Jesus released a statement on Friday to condemn the disciple’s remarks.

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The opposition and human rights organizations are protesting against this rhetoric of the government which stigmatizes illegally returned migrants and contributes to the “Endogenous xenophobia” who settles down. While denouncing ” the supplice “ that Venezuelans who return to their country live, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) organization recalls that the humanitarian emergency in Venezuela is not the result of a natural disaster but of government policies.

“Before accusing the migrants of returning to the infected country, the responsible for the crisis who forced them to flee the country should be accused,” writes economist Jose Toro. According to the United Nations (UN), more than five million Venezuelans have since 2015 left their country devastated by an unprecedented economic recession.

Subject to strict quarantine

From Colombia to Chile, the majority of them live in the informal economy. The confinement deprived them of resources, housing and hope. According to Colombian migration authorities, more than 80,000 returned to Venezuela in the first half of the year, after an often trying journey.

When they get home, “They are free, they are worthy, they are human”, welcomed President Nicolas Maduro in June, failing to recall that these migrants who fled a country in crisis return to a country in crisis. Venezuelans who have legally crossed the border are forced into strict quarantine. Hotels, stadiums, school were mobilized. Reception services are overwhelmed.

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