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Venezuela - U.S.: asylum seekers soar 400%

By A.M. Mora y Leon | The American Thinker

02.01.05 | My friend X, a Venezuelan who has always had family in Miami, every year comes to the U.S. to celebrate Christmas. It's an old family tradition, because much of his family is of Cuban origin and live in Miami if not spread out around the Caribbean.

He tells me this Christmas was a different kind, though. Normally, when in Miami, X goes to visit and have dinner with friends who are of Cuban descent. This year, there's no time for it. He explains there are now so many Venezuelans in Miami to see on this trip that he has no time to pay his respects to his old Cuban friends and relations. His fellow Venezuelans have fled to exile in Miami now. They have set up shop from in all walks of life, all professions, from small business owners to corporate managers to blue collar workers, he says. Every one of them got out to escape the tightening grip of tyranny of President Hugo Chavez. As of last August, there were at least 60,000 of them in Miami alone. Since August, the month of dictator Hugo Chavez's fraudulent recall referendum, their numbers have soared.

Today, El Nuevo Herald of Miami matter of factly points out that U.S. political asylum applications from Venezuela have skyrocketed 400% in the past five years. Agencia EFE has a good translation of the article, with some of the most arresting statistics showing that the trickle of exiles from Caracas to Miami has rapidly turned to a flood. EFE reports:

Venezuelan political asylum petitions rose from 18 in 1999, the first year Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was in office, to 1,408 in the fiscal year ending September 30, 2004, according to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Applications climbed from 18 in 1999 to 39 in 2000, 96 in 2001, 261 in 2002 and 899 in 2003 to 1,408 in 2004. Of 2,721 asylum applications filed between 1999 and 2004, the United States approved 886 and denied 79, with the remaining ones still unresolved. Following a failed referendum to revoke Chavez's mandate and regional elections, 234 Venezuelan asylum applications were filed in October and November 2004, almost the same as the total number filed in all of fiscal year 2001-2002.

In short, life has become intolerable in rapidly communizing Venezuela. Cuban doctors are there to spy on you. Taxes are skyrocketing. Your currency is turning to garbage because Chavez mismanages public finances. Property rights are not secure anymore. Your farm can be confiscated. You can be fired from your state job if you think the wrong thing. Incidents of crime are multiplying like vermin, with hundreds of murders each day in the capital. Kidnappings are rife. Armed paramilitary barrio goons aligned with Hugo Chavez, known as 'Bolivarian Circles' can beat you up or shake you down for anything. Good luck getting justice in court if one attacks you - you won't get that either.

Is there anyone at all who could live under those conditions? For many Venezuelans, all that is left is Miami. Venezuelans have a name for those who leave, too, balseros of the air after their Cuban counterparts. As you can imagine, they see eye to eye. I hope Washington is taking note.

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