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The right to return to the country in the midst of the pandemic

Venezuelans have returned to the country through border crossings or on humanitarian flights during the global emergency by Covid - 19

Returning to the country in a pandemic or under any exceptional situation is a right recognized in different international legal instruments. This has been signed by several countries, including Venezuela, to guarantee the return of their citizens when they leave their borders in any condition that affects or injures their physical and moral integrity.

UNHCR Resolution 2002/30 (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) on the Right of Return of refugees and internally displaced persons recognizes the right of refugees and internally displaced persons to return freely to their former homes or places of habitual residence, in conditions of safety and dignity. 

In addition, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that "Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.". This guarantee is only restricted in cases where there is a legal impediment to return, such as mobility restriction measures for being subject to an ongoing judicial process, having acquired debts or being requested for reasons of public order.

How has the return of Venezuelans to the country been during the pandemic?

For at least the last ten years, Venezuelans have been experiencing a strong migration process in search of better opportunities. In the current Pandemic conditions many nationals have been severely affected and this has led them to make the difficult decision to return to Venezuela. 

However, this return to the country has not been easy.The company's rights are protected by the fundamental rights of the parties to this action.

We must remember that on March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared a Global Pandemic.In response, most countries took a series of measures intended to preserve public health and prevent an increase in cases in their respective countries, including the temporary closure of airspace and certain restrictions on commercial flights.

In Venezuela, the National Executive decreed a State of Alarm on March 13, 2020, completely closing Venezuelan airspace. Since then, the National Institute of Civil Aeronautics (INAC) has extended the restriction of air operations in the national territory until the present date, which has affected many Venezuelans who are stranded in foreign countries and without the possibility of returning, even though returning is a right and a guarantee established and protected in Article 50 of our Constitution. 

To date, it is estimated that there are at least 3,000 Venezuelans stranded in Venezuela in Argentina, Chile, Costa Rica, USA, Spain, Mexico and Panama, with the intention of returning to the country. 

It is worth noting that in May 2020, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) called for respect for the rights of Venezuelans. who voluntarily return to their country due to the pandemic, due to the fact that in several countries in the region discriminatory measures have been taken that violate fundamental guarantees.

The right to return

The IACHR argues that it is aware of the difficult situation faced especially by Venezuelans abroad. because of the pandemic. Due to these serious circumstances the return to their country has been made by land routes in precarious conditions. "This situation increases vulnerability and disproportionately affects specific social groups, such as migrant women, children, adolescents and elderly people who are also exposed to the risks of violence and exploitation along their migratory itineraries.", reads the press release issued.

As part of the basic principles, the IACHR recalled that it is the role of the States to ensure that return processes to their countries are voluntary, as well as promote real solutions for the safe return of migrants, especially in the case of the most vulnerable groups such as unaccompanied children.

At Alan Aldana & Abogados we are constantly working to keep up to date with the resolutions issued by the competent bodies in the field of Human Rights, in order to inform the public of their rights and restrictions in the situation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Performed by:

  • Bianca Marán

Sources consulted: