Venezuelan immigrant communities yesterday marched for the reelection of President Hugo Chavez, and proposed a new law for their greater social inclusion.
Around 17,000 immigrants, mainly of Colombian, Peruvian, Ecuadorian, and Haitian origin, marched through central Caracas yesterday. Participants mentioned recognition and inclusion in social programs as reasons for their support of Chavez.
Julia Puello, of the Fellow Countries Movement, said to public channel VTV that “he [Chavez] has allowed us access to all of the missions and social programs that the government grants…we’re no longer treated like animals to be sent to the border…we’re respected human beings and ready to work for the country”.
Immigrants in Venezuela, including those without legal documentation, have access to certain free public services, such as health and education, as well as subsidised food networks.
“You [Chavez] told us that we all have rights in this nation. We say to you that we have a political commitment with this country, we love it with our hearts, and we’re with you,” declared Maria del Carmen Gomez, a Colombian national.
Colombians are a major immigrant group in Venezuela. It is estimated that over 4 million Colombians reside in the nation, which has a total population of around 29 million.
The march finished outside the National Assembly (AN), where the Fellow Countries Movement handed over a proposal of a Law for Social Inclusion of Migrant Communities, to allow immigrants access to citizenship benefits and to promote their greater social and political participation.
The draft legislation was submitted under the People Legislator mechanism, which allows citizen movements to submit laws for discussion in the National Assembly. It was received by AN Vice President Blanca Eekhout and deputy Juan Carlos Aleman.