Published On: Mon, Jan 15th, 2018

Venezuelan Parliament: “Curaçao must take in refugees”

CARACAS, WILLEMSTAD - The Venezuelan Parliament, appointed by President Nicolas Maduro, has called on Curaçao to grant asylum to a group of boat refugees. Parliamentarian Luis Stefanelli said to speak on behalf of the parliament and wants the survivors of a wrecked boat of Venezuelans who went to Curaçao to be treated as political refugees.

The boat with mainly young people on board left last week from the coast of the northern state of Falcón to travel to Curaçao which is about 60 kilometers north of the South American country. The boat hit rocks northeast of Willemstad and at least five people were killed and sixteen survived according to Venezuelan media. A number of media state that the authorities are still searching for ten more.

The opponents of the left-populist and President Nicolás Maduro won 177 of the 222 seats in parliament at the end of 2015. Maduro has therefore eliminated it and replaced it with a council of supporters.

The oil-rich country of more than 30 million inhabitants has long suffered from mismanagement. The leftist-populist Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) was popular as a leader, partly because he handed out oil dollars. But since 2007 he has also been keen on a kind of communism. The percentage of Venezuelans living in bitter poverty is now 82 percent versus 45 percent when Chávez came to power (1999). His death in 2013, the rampant corruption and crime, the abandonment of private companies and falling oil prices have undermined the regime and the economy. Not even a quarter of Venezuelans have faith in Maduro and his government.

According to a conservative estimate, at least 500,000 Venezuelans have fled the country in the past two years. The Prime Minister of Aruba, Evelyn Wever-Croes, recently estimated that there were approximately 12,000 illegal Venezuelans on her island. On Bonaire and Curaçao, there are about 20,000 to 25,000 Venezuelans who still live there without a residence permit.

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