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Friday, 27 November, 2020

Thousands of Venezuelans abroad still cannot return as Maduro opens airspace to only five countries

The regime is not accepting humanitarian (or commercial) flights from Colombia, where there are almost two million Venezuelan migrants, or neighboring Brazil, the US, or Spain, but opened airspace to flights from Turkey, Iran, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic.

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Nicolas Maduro’s regime will keep Venezuelan airports restricted until February 2021 and will only allow humanitarian flights to Turkey, Iran, Mexico, Panama, and the Dominican Republic. Meanwhile, hundreds of Venezuelans have been stranded in other countries for the past eight months, as the vast majority of Venezuelan migrants, almost two million, live in neighboring Colombia, Chile, or Peru.

The National Assembly estimates that several thousand of the 5.5 million Venezuelans that have emigrated since Maduro first took over in 2013 would like to return at least temporarily to see their families, deliver money, and other forms of aid to them. And Venezuelans still here seeking to leave the country have to do so on foot through illegal, gang-controlled border crossings with Brazil and Colombia. Users complain that flights are insufficient and expensive.

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Yoriemar Moreno is a Venezuelan who had a return ticket from Buenos Aires to Caracas for April and has not yet been able to return. In that same condition, there are 200 Venezuelans in Argentina, according to figures estimated by a group of people.

We do not have economic resources, since we are not working, and we cannot pay extra money or extraordinary fees,” Moreno told the Voice of America Spanish language service. The humanitarian flights are too expensive for her, starting at $390 for a one-way ticket. “I am alone with my daughter, and we want to go home,” she added.

Leaders of stranded groups count close to a thousand Venezuelan tourists in different cities of Spain who have also not been able to board the planes allowed by the Maduro government, given the number of passengers on the waiting list.

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“But if you are not selected, you cannot leave. You sign up at the consulate, and the consulate decides, it is who decides who goes on each flight. But if you are not selected, you cannot leave,” explained Venezuelan Jhacovi Ainagas, who is stranded in the Canary Islands and maintains daily communication with other people who are in the same situation.

“I know of cases of people who have been sleeping in abandoned buildings. Some people ask to sleep in shelters because they ran out of money and don’t have to pay for a hotel,” she said.

Even if they get a place in the so-called humanitarian flights, the stranded Venezuelans will have to make stops in at least one of the five countries authorized by Maduro.

With information from the Voice of America.

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