Venezuela enabled humanitarian flights for the return of its compatriots abroad, through a new phase of the plan called ‘Plan Vuelta a la Patria’, but now framed in the health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Recently, President Nicolás Maduro reported that he had empowered a fleet of 24 planes “to go to Chile, Peru, Ecuador, and wherever it is necessary to go to look for Venezuelans, who are desperately fleeing from those countries due to the coronavirus and the corona-hunger“.
The Venezuelan Vice-minister for Latin America, Rander Peña, explained to RT that to activate these flights “different coordination” with the governments of the region and “great efforts” by Caracas were required.
Phase 1: Latin America
The director of Venezuelan Consular Relations, Eulalia Tabares, explains to RT that the country is mainly focusing on Chile, Ecuador and Peru, “because they are the countries with the largest flow of Venezuelans and with the most difficult situations”.
Then, it is proposed “to expand to Panama, Argentina and the Dominican Republic, which also have a large number of compatriots. We also have Venezuelans waiting in Mexico. All of these countries are part of the first stage”, added the official.
According to Vice-minister Peña, these returns “are requests from Venezuelans themselves”, given that they are “in the midst of a painful condition of vulnerability resulting from a scheme of social unprotection abroad” which, in addition, makes them victims of “racism, discrimination and xenophobia”.
These migrants denounced various abuses, such as evictions from the homes they rented, dismissals from their jobs and the impossibility of engaging in any work.
Phase 2: Europe
The second phase, which will be carried out once the first one is completed, corresponds to migrants who are in countries in Europe, Tabares explained.
There are a good number of stranded Venezuelans in Spain, those are more complicated cases, since they are intercontinental flights.
“There are requests in Madrid, we have in Italy and some in Portugal. These would be part of a second stage”, she said, adding that all cases will be attended “progressively”.
To minimize potential risks, the Venezuelan government activated a rigorous health action protocol that guarantees the care of returning compatriots, but also of the inhabitants residing in the country. The Vice-minister explained that, through the state airline Conviasa, specialist doctors are sent to the nation in which coordination has been established.
“In that country, a protocol is established to apply rapid discard tests and a general check-up, which allows us a first diagnosis. Immediately, they board the plane and return. In Venezuela, after taking the temperature and disinfecting, they go to spaces conditioned for social isolation”, says Peña.
Venezuela will continue bringing compatriots back so they can meet their loved ones, but faithfully respecting health action protocols.
Between flights and land entry, 37,820 people have returned to Venezuela, as President Maduro himself recently reported. Many of the returnees have increased the number of contagion cases in the country to 455, one of the nations with the lowes rate of infected and where the largest number of tests have been carried out to detect the virus (535,742 until May 14).