The political and economic crisis in Venezuela has led to one of the largest mass movements in South America’s history. Due to lack of food, medical care and future prospects, more than 3.4 million people have left Venezuela. Some of the refugees ended up in Curaçao, which is 70 km away from Venezuela. According to legal experts and aid organizations, the reception of these refugees is very worrying and human rights are being violated. What are the experiences of Venezuelans on the island? And what responsibility does the Kingdom of the Netherlands have?
Exactly how many Venezuelan refugees are staying in Curaçao is not clear, but it is estimated at around 14,000 to 15,000. In September 2018, Amnesty International published a report on the reception of Venezuelans in Curaçao. According to this report, the situation is very worrying. Venezuelans are held in detention centres in bad conditions and there is no asylum procedure. People are sent back to Venezuela without an assessment of the risk they face. According to Amnesty International, human rights are being violated and the Kingdom of the Netherlands must take responsibility to improve the reception. But so far, Raymond Knops, Secretary of State for the Interior and Kingdom Relations, has indicated that it is the responsibility of Curaçao.
Moderator Natasja Gibbs talks with Venezuelan Mary Goiri (VenEurope), Paul Comenencia (member of the Council of State on behalf of Curaçao), Gilberto Morishaw and Frans Glissenaar (journalist and researcher). What are the experiences of Venezuelans on the island? Are human rights indeed being violated here? And what responsibility does the Kingdom of the Netherlands have?
About the speakers
- Mary Goiri works for VenEuropa, a not-for-profit organisation that promotes analysis and debate about the reality of Venezuela, from the perspective of the socio-cultural ties that unite it with Europe. Before she was the founder and spokesperson for Venex, the volunteer organization in Curaçao that defends the interests of Venezuelan refugees staying on the island. We talk to her about the impact of the Venezuela crisis and the situation in Curaçao.
- Paul Comenencia represents the country of Curaçao in the Advisory Division of the Council of State of the Kingdom as a State Council. In this capacity, he ensures that the interests and position of Curaçao are taken into account in all advice offered by the State Council. He was previously a minister of the Netherlands Antilles in The Hague. From 2009 to 2013, Comenencia was Consul General for the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Rio de Janeiro.
- Frans Glissenaar is a journalist and researcher for the Dutch television programme Zembla. He was the researcher for the Zembla broadcast ‘Washed up in the Kingdom of the Netherlands’, which investigated whether the Kingdom of the Netherlands was violating human rights in Curaçao.
- Gilberto Morishaw is an MSC student of Public Administration at Leiden University and focuses a lot on creating the conditions that allows others to change and become better. He is a Global Shaper at the World Economic Forum, a Fellow at Humanity in Action and an Ambassador for the African Caribbean Pacific Young Professionals Network. Gilberto is involved with multiple initiatives in the Netherlands, Europe and the Caribbean that empower young people, migrants and stimulates creating change. In the past he launched a thinktank on food security for the Dutch Caribbean for the Ministry of Agriculture, worked with the Ministry of Education on Equal Opportunities and helped undocumented migrants through the Hague World House.
- Moderator is Natasja Gibbs. She is a journalist and coordinator of the Caribbean Network in the Netherlands.
About the picture
This picture was made by Stichting Vluchteling during the visit of director Tineke Ceelen to Curaçao. It shows the detention center where Venezuelans are being detained.
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