Colombia’s Ivan Duque: Undocumented Venezuelan migrants, refugees will be legalized

Venezuelan migrants and refugees currently in Colombia without papers will be registered and provided with legal residence permits. Those who are currently on temporary residence will be able to extend their stay while those who are in the country illegally will be eligible for 10-year residence permits, 33rd Colombian president Ivan Duque, 44, announced on February 8, 2021.

There are approximately 1.8 million Venezuelans currently living in Colombia, 55 percent of which have no proper residence papers. Registering the undocumented ones would be beneficial to the security agencies of the country, according to Duque.

Due to the economic collapse and political divide in Venezuela, 4.7 million citizens of the country fled to other Latin American countries, including Colombia, according to the United Nations. Those who arrive from Venezuela to Colombia illegally from 2021 to 2022 will be allowed to apply for temporary protection.


“If we want to stop this crisis countries have to reflect about how to end the dictatorship in Venezuela,” Associated Press quoted Duque as saying. “We have to think about how to set up a transitional government and organize free elections.”

Duque made the announcement with the U.N. high commissioner for refugees Filippo Grandi, 63. The Colombian president hopes that other countries will follow the new policy, which he described as a historic and transcendental step for Latin America.

For Grandi, the new police is an extraordinary gesture of humanity, pragmatism and commitment to human rights. It would result to a more efficient provision of social services, including new coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines, Duque added.

Meanwhile, the United States will not negotiate with Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro, 58, anytime soon. The administration of 46th U.S. president Joe Biden, 78, will continue recognizing Juan Guaido, 37, as the legitimate president of Venezuela.

“I certainly don’t expect this administration to be engaging directly with Maduro,” NBC News quoted U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price, 38, as saying. He referred to Maduro as a dictator.

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