Christmas Canceled: Children Stranded at Venezuela Airport

Venezuela has been on the radar of hundreds of international news sites and several human rights organizations. The economic situation of the country and mass protests against the national government has given them some things to talk about.

What many journalists and researchers describe as an exodus of young Venezuelans fleeing galloping inflation, insecurity, and low living conditions, has caused the separation of families indefinitely. Young students leave the country yearning for a more promising future, parents are desperate for a job that allows them to support their family, and people with chronical diseases can’t find medicines for their treatments.

They leave their life behind. Coming back is not scheduled for now and many times it is simply impossible. For this reason, those who are already out of the country do everything in their hands to bring their loved ones (including pets!) to a new destination of peace and stability.

However, not all those who emigrate, nor those who remain, have the economic capacity to move their family out of Venezuela. Such was the case of 120 children who, with the support of the NGO “Unión Venezolana en Perú”, bought plane tickets to meet their parents in the Peruvian nation, but the National Guard and the Venezuelan Migration Service stopped them hours before boarding at the airport.

Venezuela: Disproportionate Cruelty or Common Security Procedure?

The Venezuelan opposition has pointed to the government of Nicolás Maduro as one of the cruelest in history. The Venezuelan leader has been accused of torturing students, drug trafficking, generating famine, playing with the health of Venezuelans by preventing the creation of a humanitarian channel, to devalue the currency and increasing the list of political prisoners on a monthly basis. The impossibility of reuniting 120 children with their families for Christmas Eve is now added to this extensive list.

For the kids, it is undoubtedly cruel to rip the gift of seeing their parents during the holiday season out from their hands. However, it must be recognized that the departure of so many minors generates suspicion and effectively must be investigated by competent authorities.

So who are the real people responsible for this mess? Consider the facts from top to bottom: Óscar Pérez, former Venezuelan congressman exiled in Peru and founder of the NGO “Unión Venezolana en Perú” (UVP, Venezuelan Union in Peru) is the coordinator of the project “Una Luz de Esperanza” (A Light of Hope). The objective of the project was to regroup 250 Venezuelan children with their families in Lima (Only 120 applied).

This trip began to be organized in October of 2017 and was scheduled for December 20th, but it was carried on the 15th of the same month for reasons that have not yet been announced. According to Pérez and other members of the organization, all the children had their respective travel permits, but the Venezuelan Department of Immigration and the National Guard arrested four members of the NGO and annulled the passports of almost everyone involved.

What Happens with Christmas for the Children?

The Prosecutor in charge of the case stated that 70% of the children’s travel permits were fraudulent and that they will present to the courts those responsible for UVP, including the wife, and the daughter of its founder, Óscar Pérez.

The adults who accompanied the infants on this flight indicated that they were devastated. But the greatest damage was done to the children by the Venezuelan government. They traveled not only to meet their parents but to look for medicines that have been scarce in the country for months. Anticonvulsants, antibiotics, medicines to control psychological disorders and heart arrhythmia are some of the long list mentioned by several companions.

On the other hand, the parents who waited for the children at Lima’s airport assured that the permits were completely legal and that the cancellation of the flight was a new scoundrel of the government of Maduro. Pérez added that it was an outrage to human rights and whose sole purpose was to generate direct damage to his person for having been a strong political leader of the opposition in Venezuela.

Playing the devil’s advocate, it is certainly very sad that infants should go through this disappointment, but if the travel permits were processed by UVP individually, it is to be expected that such a large mobilization of children would be suspicious to the immigration authorities. The Venezuelan Ombudsman, Tarek El Aissami, wrote on his Twitter account that the case could be viewed under the charge of possible trafficking of minors.

No more information has been provided on the whereabouts of the children besides being sent back home, but in view of the imminent cancellation of the flight and the arrest of the organizers, it seems that the reunion scheduled for this month will be impossible.

About Daniela D. Franco

Daniela is a Social Psychologist from Venezuela, she is interested in the changes technology and the development of social networks generate into human interactions, and is currently studying Digital Marketing. She enjoys reading, writing and biking while David Bowie is playing in her iPod.

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