The once unbreakable bond between retired General Pedro Naranjo and his son, a loyal Venezuelan air force lieutenant, has been severed by the complexities of the U.S. immigration system.
The elder Naranjo, who fled Venezuela with his son to escape persecution, now finds himself in legal limbo in the United States, while his devoted son languishes in a Venezuelan military prison after being deported in a move aimed at discouraging asylum-seekers.
The Naranjos’ saga exposes the challenges faced by the Venezuelan diaspora, adding a poignant layer to the migration discussions between Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Homeland Security Secretary Alejandro Mayorkas during their visit to Mexico City.
Last year, Mexico’s decision to end visa-free travel for Venezuelans altered the landscape, redirecting asylum-seekers to navigate the perilous Darién Gap.
Despite the resumption of U.S. deportation flights to Venezuela, the surge of Venezuelans arrested at the U.S. border remains unabated, reaching over 85,000 in October and November alone.
The case of the younger Naranjo has ignited criticism, with voices from the Venezuelan diaspora, including the Independent Venezuelan American Citizens group, denouncing the Biden administration’s actions.
The group, joined by Rep. Carlos Jimenez, raised concerns about the grave dangers faced by deportees like Naranjo, likening it to sending a U.S. drug agent into the hands of a drug cartel.
The timing of Naranjo’s deportation is significant amid U.S. efforts to improve relations with Caracas.
The Biden administration’s recent moves, including easing oil sanctions and a presidential pardon, reflect a shift from the previous “maximum pressure” approach.
The father-son journey began in 2018 when Gen. Naranjo faced charges related to an alleged plot against the Maduro government.
Fearing a return to prison, they fled Venezuela in 2022. Crossing into the U.S. exposed them to tougher asylum standards, and despite appeals, the younger Naranjo’s asylum request was rejected.
The lack of legal representation throughout the proceedings raises questions about due process.
As the Naranjo family grapples with separation, experts warn that this case may set a precedent, putting other deserving Venezuelans at risk.
The intricate web of international relations, migration policies, and individual stories converges in this tragic tale, shedding light on the harsh realities faced by those seeking refuge from political turmoil.