Deportations and houses marked in order to be demolished, violence even on unarmed citizens. This is not an excerpt from a page of history about Nazism, but what is happening at present time in South America. The humanitarian crisis triggered by the closing of the border between Venezuela and Colombia and the deportation of more than 1,100 Colombians from the neighbouring country, that has already compromised bilateral relations, may deteriorate even more. The Public Prosecutor’s Office in Bogota, in fact, is considering an accusation of “crimes of injured humanity” against Nicolas Maduro government.
The Colombian president himself, Juan Manuel Santos, evoked the possibility of an appeal of his country to the International Criminal Court in The Hague, in a harsh speech on television, during which he compared the behaviour of the Caracas government with that of the Third Reich. “As in the Nazi ghettos, the houses of the families have been marked with the letter D, to be demolished later on,” has told Santos, adding that “at the time, we wondered, where the world was when this folly took place? Today, the question we ask ourselves is: where is our region? Santos’ speech comes after the Organization of the American States (OAS) has refused to convene a summit in order to examine the crisis and after the Union of South American nations (UNASUD) has argued that no meeting can take place until next week, whereas for Bogota the situation on the borders must be addressed as a matter of urgency. The Colombian and international press has informed that there have been more than 1,100 deportations of Colombians from Venezuela so far, often carried out brutally and accompanied by the destruction of their homes, whereas private bodies speak of more than 200 children who have been separated from their families after the expulsions. A slap in the face of the neighbouring countries’ indifference.
From Caracas, however, the government continues to deny everything and argues that those are “vulgar lies”, as it has been reiterated by the president of the Parliament, Diosdado Cabello, according to whom there has been no abuse in the “expulsion of illegal immigrants” and the closing of the border has been decided to keep away “smugglers and paramilitaries who infest the area”, their goal being to destabilize the government. Maduro has added that from Colombia they are not merely organizing an “economic war” – which, in his opinion, is responsible for the serious crisis that struck Venezuela – but they are also conspiring to kill him, “with the permission of Santos’ government”.
The Colombian president has rejected those accusations, describing them as “absurd and out of reality”. Then he has added: “How can one say that a poor elderly woman who is being deported is guilty of the scarcity of basic products the Venezuelan people are suffering?” Therefore, Santos has announced that his government will appeal to the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (CIDH) and to the UN agencies, as the International Organization for Migration and the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
A first answer has already arrived: the Cidh secretary, Emilio Alvarez, has said he was “very worried” by the situation and has asked Venezuela to “suspend its activities on the border, so as to create conditions in which it will be possible to protect the rights of the Colombians who live in the area.” Maduro, however, has responded immediately from China – where he is currently on an official visit – that the Colombian government must retrieve common sense and stop “the campaign of hatred promoted by the media, in which my murder is publicly invoked” and in which “the victim becomes the executioner, and the executioner becomes a victim”.