We all understand that the most important document that foreigners must present anywhere, whether it is to process a new permit or to renew an existing one, is the passport. Unfortunately, this document, easy to obtain for citizens of any other country, has in recent years become a nightmare for Venezuelans living abroad.
It is not my intention to dwell here on the reasons that make it almost impossible to obtain, or renew, a passport outside of Venezuela. We all know the causes. They go through a lack of respect for human rights, ineffectiveness, political retaliation, and simple corruption.
What I really want to talk about in this space is about the handling of this reality by the countries that receive our migrants, especially in Curaçao, the island where I have resided for almost two decades.
It must be understood that the Consulate of Venezuela in Curaçao, in practical terms, does not exist. Dozens of Venezuelans who weekly go to the closed offices in Scharlooweg, or who try to call the phone numbers published on the official site of that diplomatic headquarters, or who try to get a simple email answered. Nobody talks about this reality publicly for fear that their passports, which today cannot be renewed, will end up being permanently blocked.
However, for those same Venezuelans to obtain or renew a local permit, they need to present, at the island's immigration offices, either a valid passport or, failing that, a letter signed by the Consul of the Nicolás Maduro regime on the island, in which it is stated that the person formally started the process of renewing their document.
That is, a letter in which the Venezuelan regime admits that the fault that the bearer does not have a valid passport is not his or hers, but the regime itself.
To give us an idea of the situation, let us imagine that you are Venezuelan, that you live in Curaçao, and that you need to renew your passport. The first thing to do is try to pay a hundred dollars online to the issuing body. To do this, you should try to connect to the SAIME website at different times for several days, as the page mysteriously "goes down" when the user connects from outside Venezuela. Not many manage to overcome this first obstacle.
Now, if you need to renew your permit to stay on the island, you have to go to the consulate in Scharlooweg every day to see if someone is working by chance. Unsuccessful, you should look to social media for alternative methods of contact. Call disconnected phones and write emails.
If you are extremely lucky, you managed to start your renewal online, and you manage to contact the consulate, they will probably ask you to pay an additional $ 50 for the letter requesting immigration, despite the fact that their website explicitly says that this process is free.
If you are less fortunate, like most of the people I know, and cannot be taken care of, your options are reduced to travel to Venezuela through Colombia, or Panama, or the Dominican Republic, get your passport there, and pray to the saints so that you can return safely to the island.
Can't you do anything from Curaçao to avoid all this?
Why does the government of Curaçao not give us a hand by omitting the requirement of a letter issued by a government that, not only is guilty of generating the collapse in the identification of people, but at least on paper, is not recognized, neither by the local government nor by the Dutch?
Countries such as Canada, the United States and several of the South American nations that belong to the so-called Lima Group, have chosen to consider our passports that have expired up to five years as valid.
Isn't it convenient for Curaçao to do everything possible to ensure that Venezuelans who pay their taxes today continue to do so?
Why not put aside that consular letter that, in the best of cases, is only serving to finance authorities that are not doing their job?
It can be understood that when granting new permits a meticulous verification of the beneficiary is carried out, however, by requiring migrants already legally established a bureaucratic document, issued by them who do not comply with renewing passports, not only the innocent workers, but also to Curaçao's finances, which could stop receiving significant taxes in a time of great need.