UNHCR Refutes AFP Venezuela Coverage

In an official statement to the Venezuelan Ministry of Foreign Relations, the international human rights refugee commission refuted recent AFP coverage regarding the Venezuelan-Colombian border situation.

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Venezuelans cross over to Colombia to purchase food and other basic goods in recent border opening (El Heraldo).
Venezuelans cross over to Colombia to purchase food and other basic goods in recent border opening (El Heraldo).
By Jeanette Charles
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Tegucigalpa, July 25th 2016 (venezuelanalysis.com) - The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) released an official communique this week denouncing the French international press agency, AFP, for misrepresenting the human rights situation along the Venezuelan-Colombian border and citing misleading statements from its Colombia representative.  

In “Venezuelans Fleeing Crisis Flood into Colombia: UN”, an article published July 22, 2016, AFP allegedly cites UNHCR representative in Colombia, Martin Gottwald. The article came after President Nicolas Maduro’s decision to open the Venezuelan-Colombian border allowing thousands to cross over into Colombia to purchase goods. Maduro officially closed the border in August 2015 as part of a national strategy to prevent the contraband of state subsidized goods and cross-border crime.

The AFP article quotes Gottwald saying: "It's a silent arrival of a lot of people who are crossing the border and staying illegally on the Colombian side."

While the article does not cite exact numbers, Gottwald allegedly approximates 100,000 people crossed over into Colombia during the last border opening.

The article continues to cite Gottwald purportedly suggesting that Venezuelan immigration to Colombia is "quite large," and that, "the avalanche is probably going to increase, with or without the reopening of the border."

The UNHCR rejected these statements in a letter to Venezuela's Ministry of Foreign Relations and affirmed that “[it is] conscious of the impact that these statements could have on the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,” reports Venezuelan news agencies Telesur and Ultimas Noticias. 

The international refugee agency confirmed that the organization consulted its offices in Bogota, Colombia, as well as Geneva, Switzerland and reached the conclusion that “the information released [in the AFP article] does not reflect the content of the UNHCR Colombian representative’s statements.”

In the last three years, economic conditions in Venezuela have faced great obstacles and the government and social movements have denounced ongoing attacks to destabilize the nation. Principle among the continued assaults against Venezuela includes corporate media and what the Bolivarian Revolutionary process refers to as the economic war.