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Trump freezes assets held by Venezuela in US

August 6, 2019

The US president's move is his latest gambit to oust counterpart Nicolas Maduro from power. Meanwhile, Colombia says it will grant citizenship to babies born there to Venezuelan parents and thus at risk of statelessness.

US: Donald Trump
Image: Getty Images/AFP/B. Smialowski

US President Donald Trump's administration on Monday froze all assets held by Venezuela's government in the US.

Trump's order affects "all property and interests in property of the Government of Venezuela that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person."

Read more: A new Cold War in Venezuela?

The governments of the US and many Latin American and EU countries have called on Maduro to step down and allow Venezuela's recognized opposition leader, Juan Guaido, to assume the presidency.

'These defenseless children'

The executive order came amid an ongoing human rights crisis in and around Venezuela: More than 4 million people have fled the country due to economic chaos and food shortages. 

Colombian President Ivan Duque announced on Monday that his country will grant citizenship to up to 24,000 children born to Venezuelan parents in the country on or after August 19, 2015. More than 1.4 million Venezuelans have fled across the border into Colombia to escape ongoing conflict and chronic shortages in their homeland.

Laws prohibit children born to parents in Colombia illegally from accessing birthright citizenship. Forty-seven percent of Venezuelans in Colombia lack legal status.

Read more: Venezuela government, opposition agree to continue talks

Children born to Venezuelans abroad have a right to Venezuelan citizenship, but it has become difficult to obtain. Venezuela severed diplomatic ties with Colombia and no longer operates consulates there. Statelessness would have left the children unable to travel internationally, buy homes, have legal jobs or marry as adults.

The measure will run for two years or until "the circumstances impeding the registration of boys and girls as Venezuelans cease."

"Today we support these defenseless children who want to have the right to a nationality and proudly tell them that they are Colombian," Duque said Monday. He added that his government had administered 1.2 million vaccines and enrolled more than 182,000 children in school.

Venezuela's economic collapse

Read more: Venezuela's Juan Guaido will meet with Brazil's president on the way home

International accords require Colombia to provide citizenship to people at risk of statelessness. Advocacy groups have pressured the government to comply with such treaties for several months.

The issues of stateless children hasn't surfaced in other South American nations that receive large numbers of Venezuelans, including Peru, because many have laws that allow babies born in within the borders of their territory to obtain citizenship regardless of their parents' migration status.

mkg/kl (EFE, Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)

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