In the early hours of Tuesday, October 5, a group of 200 Venezuelans returned to their country from Chile on a flight chartered by the public airline company Conviasa, under the ‘Return to the Homeland’ plan promoted by the socialist government of President Nicolás Maduro. The repatriation of the group happened 10 days after Venezuelan migrants were attacked by xenophobic protesters in the city of Iquique in Chile.
The news was shared by the new Venezuelan foreign minister, Felix Plasencia, on his Twitter account. “Today 200 compatriots returned from Chile to Venezuelan territory, thanks to the ‘Return to the Homeland’ program. Venezuela welcomes its sons and daughters with open arms. Mission accomplished, President Nicolás Maduro,” tweeted Plasencia. He also applauded the reactivation of the plan, terming it “pure humanism, solidarity and patriotic love at its best.”
Venezuela toda los recibe con los brazos abiertos. El Plan Vuelta a la Patria, una iniciativa del Presidente @NicolasMaduro, es humanismo puro, solidaridad y amor patrio en su máxima expresión iBienvenidos y bienvenidas siempre a su casa, a la Venezuela Bolivariana! #5Oct https://t.co/QzM2Pq4H4f pic.twitter.com/jJGdO4rESo
— Felix Plasencia (@PlasenciaFelix) October 5, 2021
On September 24, officials of the Chilean national police, the Carabineros, carried out a violent operation to evict some 150 undocumented Venezuelan families from the Brazil Square in Iquique, where they had been living in camps for a year. The next day, over 3,000 Chileans took to the streets of the city against undocumented migrants. The xenophobic protesters attacked migrants stranded on the streets and set fire to their belongings, including tents, clothes, mattresses, blankets, strollers, and toys.
The attacks were widely condemned by political and social leaders, and organizations in both Venezuela and Chile. UN agencies, among various other human rights and immigrants rights organizations, also condemned these violent acts and demanded respect for international humanitarian rights.
As a result of the attacks, President Maduro ordered the resumption of the “Return to the Homeland” plan to support and facilitate the repatriation of those wanting to return home.
The attacks in Chile are not the first instances of xenophobic discrimination toward Venezuelans in the region. They have been victims of xenophobic violence in Brazil, Colombia and Peru.
La democracia "ejemplo" de Chile permite la celebración de una "marcha Anti venezolanos". Duque, Piñera y Guaido viven del libreto "inmigración", lo usan para exacerbar sentimientos innobles, miserables. Los gringos les acaban de abonar 336 millones de $. pic.twitter.com/KGZ2JtJc3e
— Michel Caballero Palma (@MichelCaballero) September 26, 2021
Plan Vuelta a la Patria or Return to the Homeland Plan was launched in 2018 as a humanitarian repatriation bridge. It guarantees the return of Venezuelans, who migrated to other countries for different reasons but decided to return to their country due to their struggles with xenophobia, marginalization, discrimination and poverty, without any cost.
According to official data, a total of 26,733 nationals have been brought back by air, sea and land from countries such as Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Spain and Italy.