The so-called “universal citizenship” is a decision that is discussed from the same year of its validity. The country became a scale for dangerous migration. In June 2008, Ecuador surprised the world with the so-called “universal citizenship”.
A decision that opened the doors of the country to any foreigner regardless of their origin. Although this measure is still in force after a short time showed its shortcomings. The first alert jumped just three months after his birth.
The country experienced an unusual exodus of Chinese citizens who used our territory to reach the United States. Asians were victims of inhuman treatment by people smugglers. The response from the then ambassador, Cai Ronguo, was overwhelming and he asked Ecuador to demand a visa from his compatriots.
The government backed down and started asking the Chinese for a visa. This requirement was maintained until 2016, when both countries decided to withdraw the requirement of these travel documents. The analyst Joaquin Hernandez argues that opening the doors to all travelers weighed a demagogic spirit and a desire for international recognition of former President Rafael Correa.
He argues that the concept of “universal citizenship” is not bad in essence, because it rescues equality among all individuals. But he stressed that societies must meet a minimum of considerations for migration, as Europe does. These considerations include knowing the consequences that a massive migration will have on society, its economy and its security.
This is explained by the vice-rector of the Institute of Higher National Studies (IAEN), Katalina Barreiro. The professor maintains that these forecasts were not taken when the doors to indiscriminate migration were opened. Ecuador soon faced problems that it had not felt before.
On the continent, the Ecuadorian decision also worried countries such as the United States, Panama, Costa Rica and El Salvador. They moved the diplomatic threads to reverse the Ecuadorian decision that generated a qualified migration as very dangerous.
Evidence was found on the Wikileaks cables. “Ecuador is causing instability in all of America since it abolished visas,” warned Mario Zamora, Costa Rican Security Officer, at the US embassy. They denounced an avalanche of irregular immigrants from Eastern Europe, Arabs and Africans. Many linked to drug trafficking networks, trafficking in persons and even terrorism.
Again, the government of that time had to go back and ask for a visa from the population of 11 countries. These were: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Somalia, Senegal and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).
Until now, citizens of these nations must present the travel document in the Migration offices. The analyst Barreiro recalls that then the Human Mobility Law was reformed, to qualify the concept of “universal citizenship”. The intention was to include security issues considered for migration. “The consequences were also waves of migration never before seen in the country,” Barreiro emphasizes.
She maintains that large migration flows were not prevented either. In the last 10 years, Haiti, Cuba and Venezuela lead this list, distinctly from Colombia, whose migration was habitual due to the violence unleashed by drug trafficking and guerrillas. The first wave was of Haitians who escaped the poverty that left the earthquake of 2010.
They arrived in Ecuadorian cities to seek an exit to the US, but they became easy prey for traffickers. Shortly after, the Cubans did the same. They came more than 200,000 until 2015, with peaks that reached 74,000 visitors in a year.
That avalanche triggered the business of marriages for convenience and deals with migrants who longed only to reach the United States. Once again, neighboring countries and organizations such as the United Nations warned about this problem. Once again, the government had to consider its open door policy and also put a visa on Cubans.
This measure has been in place since 2015 and is based on the need to protect the citizens of that country from criminal networks. The third great exodus is of Venezuelans. Only last year 954,000 citizens of that country entered. Of these, 154,000 settled in cities throughout the national territory, the rest used it as a stopover to reach Peru and Chile. Barreiro and Hernández agree that laws, such as universal nationality are tested in reality and must respond to the needs not only of the country but of the region. (I)