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Millions of Venezuelans Stranded: Nicolás Maduro’s Regime Suspends Passport Issuance

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[Leer en español]

THE LEFT WING GOVERNMENTS have acquired as state policy some recognized mechanisms of social control: state bonuses, price or exchange controls, social programs in exchange for political loyalty, and a less recognized one —which is a human rights violation— is the ban on the issuance of passports.

While in some countries, it is customary to request a passport, and the delivery is immediate, or in a matter of days, under some leftist governments, the process to acquire a visa can take months or even years. A situation that puts millions of citizens in a state of vulnerability and lack of protection.

In Argentina, for example, passport procedures take 90 days (3 months) to arrive home. In Peru, the delivery of the document can take more than a month, but making the appointment is becoming more cumbersome every day. In Venezuela, acquiring a passport can take months, and its delivery can take more than two years.

The situation in Venezuela has “normalized” to such an extent that thousands of citizens are forced to pay bribes to officials to access the document. However, for more than two months, even that has become impossible because the regime of Nicolás Maduro decided to eliminate the only website where one could apply for a passport. In short, at this moment, it could be said that millions of Venezuelan citizens are stranded.

SAIME web site under maintenance.

The Administrative Service of Identification, Migration and Foreigners (SAIME, Servicio Administrativo de Identificación, Migración y Extranjería) is the office in charge of issuing passports to Venezuelans. The process of acquiring a passport begins and ends there.

Since this department was created, everything was done digitally, from requesting an appointment to following the step-by-step where each Venezuelan could see when their passport was ready. While the process has always taken months and even years, citizens had the hope of being able to receive their document, but now there is no way to apply for it because there is “no system.”

The passport situation is so critical that governments worldwide have come to understand the crisis and have begun to allow Venezuelans to travel with their expired passports. Still, many other countries have decided to ask for visas, making it more difficult for them to travel. This is not only for those who wish to migrate but also for those who travel for leisure or work.

It should be remembered that processing a Venezuelan passport can cost more than $360, making it one of the most expensive in the world. Some who have already paid have been left without the money and the document. So far, there are no answers to situations like the ones mentioned above.

This Tuesday, July 12, the SAIME attributed to a “technological blockade against the country” the crash of its operating system for more than a month.

“SAIME informs the Venezuelan people that due to the perverse and pernicious impact caused by the technological blockade against the country, our system has been directly affected, causing inconveniences in our services,” the agency said in a statement released on its social networks.

The truth is that there is no “technological blockade.” The regime decided to eliminate the existing system to hire a new company linked to Vice-President Delcy Rodríguez.

According to the independent press, such a system would be in charge of the company ExCle, related to the platform of the National Electoral Council (CNE) and Rodriguez. It is also the same company that introduced the biometric identification system of the state-owned Banco de Venezuela. The company that now has in its hands the identification system of the South American country is sanctioned by OFAC.

Venezuelans trapped without passports

Millions of Venezuelans are trapped in their country and unable to travel due to the lack of passports, but there are also millions more who are in other countries, unable to move around.

“I applied for a new passport in February, paid $100 in advance, and it has been five months, and I have no answer. I don’t know if that money is lost or if I have to reapply and start from scratch in a new system,” Andrea Rondón denounced to El American from Lima, Peru.

“I haven’t seen my daughters for five years, and I want to travel to be reunited with them in December, and although some countries accept expired passports, Nicolás Maduro’s regime won’t let us leave if the document is not valid. I feel like we are kidnapped,” denounced Rodolfo González, from Caracas, Venezuela.

So far, the situation is uncertain. The regime does not inform which steps to follow, and millions of citizens are waiting for their passports. Meanwhile, from the U.S. Government, President Joe Biden continues to analyze the easing of sanctions against a tyranny that deliberately decided to keep Venezuelans stranded.

Sabrina Martín Rondon is a Venezuelan journalist. Her source is politics and economics. She is a specialist in corporate communications and is committed to the task of dismantling the supposed benefits of socialism // Sabrina Martín Rondon es periodista venezolana. Su fuente es la política y economía. Es especialista en comunicaciones corporativas y se ha comprometido con la tarea de desmontar las supuestas bondades del socialismo

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