The Colombian government on Monday approved a resolution via which Venezuelan children born on Colombian territory after Aug. 19, 2015, will receive Colombian citizenship so that they will not run the risk of being deported.
“In a great inter-institutional effort by the Colombian state ... we’re uniting to tell those 24,000 children who have been in that situation - which, in practice, would lead to repatriation (to Venezuela) - that they are not going to be in that situation and today we’re extending Colombian citizenship to them so that they may be universally protected with that right,” President Ivan Duque said in a statement.
The Colombian state decided to adopt the measure when “it verified that there would be insuperable obstacles” to those children receiving Venezuelan nationality and they would not have access to Colombian nationality either given that their parents are non-resident foreigners, the President’s Office said.
The urgent, temporary and exceptional measure was implemented and will be in force for two years or until the circumstances preventing the registration of the children as Venezuelans cease to prevail.
Duque noted that about 1.4 million Venezuelan citizens have taken refuge in Colombia fleeing the ongoing political, economic and social crisis in their homeland, a flow that continues and which has brought tens of thousands of people across the common border so far this year, some to buy basic goods and others to emigrate.
“Today, we’re doing our duty to children who deserve the attention and affection of (our) people because they’re not to blame for that tragedy and we’re affirming that Colombia shows to the world that in times of difficulty brotherhood prevails and we will not allow those who want to make xenophobia an opportunistic path to sow seeds (here),” Duque said.
The measure reflects the letter and spirit of the American Convention on Human Rights, the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness.
At present, Venezuela does not have any consulates in Colombia after the two nations broke diplomatic relations and Bogota recognized the head of Venezuela’s parliament, Juan Guaido, as that country’s legitimate, albeit interim, president.
Venezuela does not grant citizenship to children born in Colombia to Venezuelan parents.
The Colombian president emphasized that the decision taken on Monday provides support to “helpless little ones who want to have a nationality” and he told them that, as of today, they are Colombians.
The decision was taken, the president said, as an act of solidarity despite Colombia’s “fiscal limitations” with its “average per capita income of less than $8,000, much below European countries who have faced (similar) migration crises.”
“Today, we can say that amid these difficulties, Colombia has shown the world that the road of xenophobia is the wrong road, the one of segregating brothers in need is the wrong road,” Duque said.