Chile offers 'democratic responsibility visa' to Venezuelan migrants

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - Venezuelans seeking refuge in Chile can request a “democratic responsibility visa” at any Chilean consulate in the world, and not just in their homeland where the visa has been available until now, Chile’s foreign ministry said on Saturday.

The visa can be requested as of Monday. It will allow Venezuelans fleeing their crisis-hit country to stay in Chile for one year, and can be extended for an additional 12 months, a statement posted on the ministry’s website said.

“We have instructed that all Chilean consulates in the world also begin to be able to offer visas of democratic responsibility,” Chilean Foreign Minister Teodoro Ribera was quoted as saying in local press reports on Saturday.

The minister added that for Chile the “real solution” would be for “the rule of law be restored” in Venezuela. Chile is part of the 12-nation Lima Group of Western states pushing for the resignation of Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro. Opponents accuse Maduro, a socialist, of being a dictator.

In another policy change, the interior ministry announced that Chile will immediately start requiring tourist visas for Venezuelan visitors who plan to stay in the country for short periods. Previously, Venezuelans could arrive without tourist visas and stay for 90 days.

Venezuela’s economic collapse has unleashed the biggest migratory crisis in recent South American history.

This week about 200 migrants, the vast majority Venezuelans, were stranded on the border between Peru and Chile trying to enter Chilean territory after a change of regulations in Peru slowed their movement.

Reporting by Natalia Ramos; Writing by Hugh Bronstein; Editing by Tom Brown and Daniel Wallis