WASHINGTON, USA – The general secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) published a report on the “Situation of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in Bolivia.” The report was prepared based on the visit to Bolivia by the team from the Office of the general secretariat for the crisis of Venezuelan migrants and refugees.
In recent years, Bolivia has gone from being a transit country for Venezuelan migrants and refugees to being a destination country, and those who arrive do so in conditions of vulnerability.
“The migratory restrictions imposed by some nations in the region have increased the arrival of Venezuelans in Bolivia and, if these controls are maintained, combined with the deepening of the crisis caused by the Nicolás Maduro regime, it is estimated that the migratory flow to this country will increase this year,” points out David Smolansky, Commissioner of the OAS Secretary-General for the Crisis of Venezuelan Migrants and Refugees, in the report.
The report indicates that Bolivia has received nearly 10,000 Venezuelan migrants and refugees to date, but that they were hidden from view for a decade and a half for political reasons. “The establishment of the transitional government in Bolivia, led by Jeanine Añez, has generated a change in the migration policy of this country and a new approach to Venezuelan immigration, focused on flexibility and a more humane perspective,” notes the report.
The report highlights the progress made by the new government. Some positive aspects of the new policy to mention are the reactivation of the refugee application processes and the flexibility regarding the documentation required of Venezuelan people in order to have their status regularized and remain in Bolivian territory.
Furthermore, the report identifies challenges to be addressed. This includes difficulties in covering the financial costs of immigration procedures and obstacles to entering the formal labor market. Likewise, the report highlights that “one of the challenges is to guarantee the continuity of the new migration policy towards Venezuelans, as well as the continuity of the resolutions approved if a new government is installed after the 2020 presidential elections.”
The mission of the OAS general secretariat office to address the Venezuelan migrant and refugee crisis, coordinated by David Smolansky, is to work with OAS member countries to address the situation of more than 5.1 million Venezuelans who have fled to other countries, which represents more than 17 percent of the population of Venezuela.
The office of the general secretariat considers it essential that the region work to create the bases for a consensus that allows the permanent protection of Venezuelan migrants throughout the hemisphere. As expressed in the regional report of June 2019, Venezuelans should receive refugee status according to the Cartagena Declaration. While Bolivia is taking a step forward by reviving refugee claim approvals, the regional consensus would ensure orderly, safe, and regular migration across the hemisphere.
This is the third report published by the OAS general secretariat on the situation of Venezuelan migrants and refugees in destination countries. The report on Brazil was published in December 2019, and the report on Costa Rica in January 2020.