Colombia’s center-right Centro Democrático party, led by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, extended a hand to Venezuelans suffering from the country’s economic and political crisis. The party announced yesterday that they will push for the issuance of humanitarian visas to Venezuelans forced to leave their country. The party asserted that the move was Colombia’s moral and diplomatic responsibility, and legal under the 1951 Refugee Convention.
María Fernanda Cabal and Paola Holguín, with support from Uribe, proposed a bill in Colombia’s congress this week. Party representatives alluded to the historical bonds of brotherhood with neighboring Venezuela, and to Colombia’s responsibility to help those who escape from Venezuela, now that it is under the oppression of Maduro’s dictatorship.
The bill would grant visas to refugees from Venezuela that would allow them to live and work in Colombia for between 90 and 180 days. That period could be extended for up to two years if the refugees decide to settle on a permanent basis.
Cabal criticized current Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, saying that Santos’ government hasn’t shown any interest in helping Venezuelans. Holguín said that Colombia will support the people of Venezuela until Maduro’s dictatorship comes to an end.
In order for this bill to become law, congress must debate the proposal and Santos must approve it. If Santos were to reject this law, it would be further studied by congress and a final decision would come from the country’s constitutional court.