By Daniela Carrasco.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people around the world have been into situations they never imagined, such as a 28-year-old Venezuelan migrant who gave birth in Saint Martin, waiting to return to her home country.
The Venezuelan woman, who asked not to reveal her name, told El Pitazo that she arrived in Saint Martin in late 2019, suspecting she was pregnant. Then came the quarantine declared in Venezuela in mid-March and earlier in other parts of the planet. She stayed with relatives on the island, waiting for the airspace to reopen now sure to be expecting, but time continued to pass until her little girl was born on June 8, on the French side of the island.
“When I was a month in, in Saint Martin, I found out I was two months pregnant, and by then, I was working in a lottery agency until the quarantine came in March, and I stopped working,” she said.
The woman explained that the government of the island supported her with an insurance policy that covered all the expenses related to the birth and that the medical care she received was excellent. But, the baby girl cannot receive French citizenship since neither of the parents is native from the territory.
The mother explains that she must wait until the child is taken to Venezuela to process her documents, since the Venezuelan consulate in Curaçao, which also serves Venezuelans in Saint Martin, has not given her any answer about what to do in her case.
“I explained my case to the Venezuelan consulate in Curaçao, but they never answered me. When I gave birth, I decided to talk with immigration, and there, they gave me a permit so that the girl could board the plane with me. I only had to translate her birth certificate so that it would be in Spanish,” she said.
Due to the laws of the island, the girl, not having national parents, does not have French or Dutch nationality. The only way for the child to have a national identity if she is presented in Venezuela, so for the time, she is stateless.
“I gave her birth certificate, but she is not the daughter of the French people. I must get her papers in Venezuela. She could have her papers if she lived and studied here for a minimum of five years, but I cannot stay all that time stranded,” he added.
The opportunity turned into a nightmare
The woman decided to emigrate five years ago due to the economic crisis in Venezuela that made it difficult to have a good quality of life. So, to find new opportunities, she decided to settle in the Dominican Republic.
Upon arriving on the island, the Venezuelan woman worked in informal jobs to support herself until she was able to have a stable income and a place to stay. Likewise, during her five years as a migrant, she had the opportunity to get to know other countries such as Germany and Portugal.
“Dominicans are super cool. I never lived anything related to xenophobia. I was doing well there, and I thought about going back, but now they ask for a visa, which costs $250, and I don’t have that resource to apply for it. Besides, I would like to go back to my country,” he said.
Because the caraqueña has a relative on the island of Saint Martin, she decided to venture to another corner of the world and try her luck by working for three months on the Caribbean island. “I wanted to visit my relative, and I thought I could spend some time there and see how I was doing and then return to the Dominican Republic or stay in St. Martin,” she said.
After the Venezuelan woman gave birth, the desire to return to her country increased, as she saw that there was no chance of getting a new job during the pandemic to have an income that would allow her to pay her food, the baby’s expenses, and rent.
“My relatives, especially my mom, are telling me to go back and be with them. At this difficult time, I will rather be with the family regardless of the current situation in Venezuela,” she said.
The woman emphasized that even though she is separated, the father of the little girl, who is of Dominican, helps her since he knew that they were going to have a daughter. “Being in a foreign country without working is not having a way to support yourself. Thank God I have not lacked a place or food, but there will come a time when it will be much more difficult, so I want to return before that happens.”
Hope in a flight that doesn’t arrive
Along with more than 100 Venezuelans, the mother of the little girl is still waiting for her repatriation. “I had hoped that this flight would approve before she gave birth, but it was not. Many months have already passed waiting for that flight since they started with the list. This situation is not at all easy,” she said.
Venezuelans stranded in Saint Martin for more than six months asked the governor of Falcón, Victor Clark, for help in getting them repatriated since most of them come from that state. They did it, given the lack of response from the Consul in Curaçao, Marisol Gutierrez de Almeida, who also represents the Venezuelan State in that Caribbean island.