Venezuelan asylum seekers tricked by immigration officials, imprisoned in Florida

i-want-you-in-prison

Evil, wicked Venezuela is bleeding citizens, we’re told. Refugees keep washing up in Florida, claiming political persecution as grounds for asylum. It’s the fault of the evil Chavistas, driving honest working folk out of the land! It’s nothing but a giant communist prison! But behind that popular narrative lies a very different truth…and the prison lies not in evil communist Venezuela, but in the “free” US of A:

The seeking of asylum in the US on the part of Venezuelans as a means to live legally in that land, basing their story in the same policy of discredit which that land has used against Venezuela, appears to be changing with the growth in the number of persons taking advantage of that game of double interests.

According to a report in the newspaper El Nuevo Herald, of marked right-wing tendency but pro-immigration in that its readership is Latin-American, there are now 22 Venezuelans imprisoned in Florida following their attempt to enter the country through the Miami airport.

In an article titled “From the violence in Caracas to a nightmare in Miami Airport”, the Venezuelans relate how, in the airport terminal, they were treated like criminals.

“All of them say they had been tricked and mistreated by customs and immigration functionaries in the airport. The overwhelming majority of them don’t know why they were being sent to jail, felt great alarm because they were handcuffed to be transferred like delinquents to Pompano Beach, and later cried when they arrived at BTC (Broward Transitional Centre) and saw the orange uniforms they had to wear,” the paper reports.

Some of the interviewees said they did ask for asylum, but others were tricked by the police to appear to be taking advantage. Among other things, the lack of mastery of the English language and being detained in a room in the airport which they call “la nevera” (the refrigerator) and where they spent several hours incommunicado.

Those who are seeking asylum in the US cannot do so legally in an airport, a fact which is used discretionally by police.

Acceptance of an asylum request initiates a process, a trial in which the asylum-seeker must demonstrate circumstances which relate to their person and country. If it is denied, which could take two years, they must leave the country and not return for several more years.

Many Venezuelans who have gone to Florida claimed to be politically persecuted, knowing that the US government has created a negative view of Venezuela, to the point of having decreed that the land is an “unusual and extraordinary threat to the security of the United States”.

Such is the case for Alejandro Martínez, one of the BTC prisoners. According to his story, he was the victim of a robbery and attempted homicide on the part of an organized crime gang which he and the paper call a “Chavista paramilitary band” — qualifiers necessary to associate his case in a forced manner to politics, and to benefit from that.

Now Martínez has spent months in the BTC, an immigration detention centre in Pompano Beach, dressed in orange, according to the paper, whose entire reportage, culminating in a negative view of Venezuela, can be read at http://www.elnuevoherald.com/noticias/mundo/america-latina/venezuela-es/article95390147.html.

Another case is that of Pedro O., a businessman, claiming to be victim of a kidnapping three years ago and who decided to travel to the US. El Nuevo Herald states:

“With that experience, Pedro answered yes when the immigration officer asked him if he was fearful in Venezuela. ‘Yes, I’m afraid, because at any time they could kill me there, or kidnap one of my kids and demand money, I told them.’

“At that time, the businessman was speaking with a functionary in his second interview at the airport, after which the functionary at the first gate told him that he thought that Pedro had come to work illegally in the US.

“The functionaries, who had previously told him he was going to be deported, made note of the response and immediately told him that he had ‘entered another process’ and told him to sign some papers which he did not understand.

“‘I didn’t know what was going to happen to me,’ he said. That night, he stayed in the ‘refrigerator’. ‘I hardly slept. At 11 o’clock the next morning they took me out in handcuffs and took me to the BTC’.”

Now, families and friends are looking for ways to help these Venezuelan victims of anti-immigrant repression in the United States.

Among the cases related by El Nuevo Herald was that of David F., who only went to the US as a tourist but fell victim to police entrapment in the airport with the now famous question of whether he was afraid to live in Venezuela, which sent him directly to jail. This is his sad story:

“His problem began with the functionary at the first gate, when this man asked him how long he intended to stay and he replied: As long as they liked.

“‘Something in that response didn’t sit well with them, and they sent me for a second interview.

“‘My visa permitted me to stay six months, and I had booked a return ticket for four months and a few weeks, given that I went with intentions of seeking asylum.’

“But David thought he might inform himself of how to do that in the United states and share his information with various companies, to try and see if any of them showed interest in hiring him.

“He thought to return to Venezuela to try to legally initiate his immigration process, but they didn’t believe him. After asking to see his cellphone, they saw a WhatsApp message from a friend in the United States, saying that she had confidence in him, an electrical technician specializing in energy transmission, that he would find work easily in the United States.

“It seemed that David would be deported to Venezuela under suspicion that he intended to work illegally in the United States until the functionary asked him the fear question.

“Like the others, he was taken to the BTC the next day. He was very alarmed when he saw that the detention centre was a low-security prison and that they would be forced to wear prisoners’ uniforms.

“But he recalled that at the airport, they had told him that he would only be there a few days, and later they would let him go so he could seek political asylum.

“He learned the truth a few hours later, when he found himself in a group of Venezuelans who were also there.

“‘Brother, they told me that in five days I’d be able to go, and then they started to laugh because they had already been there several months,’ he said.

“David was eventually deported to Caracas in spite of having asked for asylum. His case was denied after the immigration official who interviewed him in the BTC refused to approve his status of “credible fear”, due mainly to translation problems, and the fact that he worked for a state-owned company.”

Translation mine.

That state-owned company is undoubtedly Corpoelec, Venezuela’s public electrical utility. An entity which has been under fire (literally!) from the opposition, whose destabilization campaign regular readers of this blog already know all too well. A destabilization campaign funded, aided and abetted by good ol’ Uncle Sam…who throws Venezuelan asylum seekers in jail when they come to Florida. Because they don’t really WANT to help Venezuelans in trouble, whether their troubles are actual or imaginary. They just want to keep that country under their boot-heels…and when pesky little nobodies from there, persons not actively involved in destabilization, show up, what do they do but jail them? After all, these are not elite bottom-feeders like Prettyboy Leo or MariCori, or dirty-tricks operatives like Jota-Jota Rendón. Those illegitimate asylum seekers would get a pass any day. Because they’re useful idiots.

And at the end of the day, Uncle Sam don’t like nobody who’s just a useless idiot, like the poor suckers who come in looking for asylum but not carrying big suitcases packed to bursting with ill-gotten gringo dinero. Uncle Sam wants assets. These people are not that. It’s a harsh lesson in US Realpolitik, but let’s hope that these poor dupes learn something from it…and spread their lessons all over Venezuela, so loudly that even the local crapaganda media can’t drown the clamor out.

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