South American states use diplomatic asylum to undermine Maduro regime

South American states use diplomatic asylum to undermine Maduro regime

By Luke Vargas   
Caracas, Venezuela. Flickr photo: César.Gutiérrez
Caracas, Venezuela. Flickr photo: César.Gutiérrez

The center-right governments of Chile and Brazil have been outspoken in their criticism of Nicolás Maduro.

UNITED NATIONS – After an attempted uprising in Venezuela on Tuesday that failed to topple the Maduro government, several dozen defecting soldiers and a top opposition figure sought protection at various foreign embassies in Caracas.

Brazil was quick to accept asylum requests from 25 soldiers, while anti-Maduro leader Leopoldo Lopez dropped into Chile’s embassy before ultimately accepting protection from Spain’s ambassador.

“It’s up to the embassy or the acting ambassador to do that calculation of costs and benefits – the benefits of protecting the persecuted individual and the costs of the political repercussions for the embassy or the ambassador that took that decision to protect.”

Feline Freier is a professor of political science at the University of the Pacific in Lima, Peru.

“In international relations if you accept the nationals of a country as in need of protection, that sends a very strong message against their government, and it sent a very strong message against Maduro.”

Freier isn’t surprised that center-right governments, such as Brazil, are lending a hand to those suffering under Venezuela’s far-left government, though she says there’s still a limit to their generosity.

“Neither the Chilean, Spanish or Brazilian embassy would keep its doors open to this option of people seeking political asylums if we were talking about hundreds or thousands of people.”

How will the 3.5 million Venezuelans that have fled the country be treated abroad? While none of Venezuela’s neighbors have closed their doors to the migrant exodus, many are ignoring domestic laws that categorize those fleeing violence and disturbed public order as refugees.

“This basically applies to most if not all Venezuelans living in Venezuela right now, and it’s a huge dilemma for the countries in the region because this would basically mean accepting all of Venezuelans as refugees.”

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