Columns & OpinionsThe Netherlands recognizes Juan Guaidó, but Amsterdam does not want to give my husband a passport unless dictator Maduro agrees. This decision contradicts the request made by the interim president recognized by the Netherlands, who calls for help for Venezuelans with passport problems. by Lucien Spee
- 22 April 2020
| length: 4 min. |
|My Husband Is A Refugee as well|
Dit artikel is ook in het Nederlands beschikbaar
length: 4 minuten
I owe my beautiful double surname to my great love Victor. Like five million other Venezuelans, he left his country because of the humanitarian crisis in the country. His salary and savings were worth nothing, and every day he stood in line for hours for food and medicine for his grandmother.
Victor fled to Curaçao, the island he saw across the sea from his hometown. Unfortunately, Venezuelans are not welcome there and are exploited by the locals and hunted down by the police. In fear of deportation, he often changed hiding and work place after raids by the police. He took just enough of the little hard-earned money to stay alive; the rest was sent to Venezuela so that his family could survive.
At the end of September 2015, I traveled to the island at the invitation of the local Pride and met my husband there. Two weeks later, I bought him a plane ticket and it was just in time. He was picked out by the police on the bus on the way to the airport. As he already had a ticket, he was not detained but escorted to customs.
We got married on the opening day of EuroPride in July 2016 and our love is still growing. After four years of fighting a system aimed at making it as difficult as possible for foreigners, last year our life seemed to normalize somewhat.
Even his degree was finally recognized after a two-year procedure and he now works four days a week as a first-degree Spanish teacher.
Seemed I said, as unfortunately the drama is not over yet. Since last August, Victor has been working hard to get his Venezuelan passport renewed and is trying in every possible way to appeal to the executive agencies that are unfortunately still under the authority of dictator Maduro.
When, after six months, there was still no prospect of a new travel document, he asked the municipality of Amsterdam for help. According to Dutch law, the Mayor of Amsterdam may issue a travel document to non-Dutch residents with a valid residence permit, provided that a number of conditions are met and the Minister of Justice and Security has no residence objections. Unfortunately, Venezuela is not on the exception list, which means that Victor must be able to prove that he cannot get a travel document from the Venezuelan authorities.
To that end, Victor went in good spirits to the city hall with a folder full of documentary evidence and despite doubts expressed by the civil servants there, he was allowed to submit an application and they took his fingerprints. An application usually takes two to four months, but within two days, Victor received a telephone call with the information that the application will not be processed.
Despite the fact that he submitted documents that prove the contrary, the municipality of Amsterdam believes that Victor can simply get a travel document in Brussels, and will only accept a physical rejection from the representatives of dictator Maduro to prove the contrary. However, they let him know that they cannot and will not do anything for him.
The municipality bases its opinion on information that our Minister of Foreign Affairs received in the spring of 2018. At the time, the Minister was informed by the Venezuelan embassy in The Hague that they had stopped issuing passports in the autumn of 2017, but that people could still apply for an extension sticker online and collect it in Brussels. Indeed, when Victor’s passport first expired in 2017, it worked like this and the whole process took no more than a few weeks.
However, the situation in Venezuela has exploded since then and the country is climbed to the top of all lists of the UN refugee organization. Last October, there even was an International Solidarity Conference held in Brussels, at which the European Union wanted to send a strong message to Venezuelan refugees and migrants that the world had not forgotten them. This was a month after the last handful of passport extension stickers became available in Brussels.
It is logical that the city of Amsterdam is reluctant and that it will not simply issue travel documents to foreigners as that violates the sovereignty of another state. However, since January 2019, the Netherlands is one of the fifty countries that officially recognize Juan Guaidó, the president of Venezuela’s only remaining legitimately and democratically elected body, as the interim president of that country. It is precisely this interim president who issued a decree on May 29, 2019 especially because of the global passport problem of his countrymen, calling on the countries that recognize him to help his nationals with passport problems.
Unfortunately for Victor and the other Venezuelans who unsuccessfully asked the Mayor of Amsterdam for help, the recognition of Juan Guaidó by the Netherlands was apparently purely symbolic and Amsterdam does not want to infringe on the dictator’s sovereignty.
Meanwhile, it is March 2020 and the prospect is still hopeless. Two holidays have now passed and Victor’s students come back with the most beautiful stories, while he himself can’t travel any further than the Dutch border with Belgium and Germany. Hopefully the Netherlands will show more compassion in a year and will not deport him if he does not yet have a valid travel document and his residence permit will also have expired.
Lucien Spee de Castillo Ruiz
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