The Unwelcome Mat

The Unwelcome Mat

Recently, Panama’s government announced that, in future, Venezuelans wishing to enter the country would first need to be granted a visa. President Juan Carlos Varela said the visa requirement would remain in place until “democratic order” was restored in Venezuela.

The official position suggests that Panama doesn’t wish to import “democratic disorder,” but a more accurate reading might be, “You’ve made a complete mess of your country and a lot of your people are trying to come here to escape. We don’t especially want to be saddled with your refugees, and we want to make that official.”

In essence, the Panamanian government has officially declared that the welcome mat had been pulled in.

A similar situation occurred in Uruguay in 2010. They had for many years had a more-or-less open-door policy, welcoming most potential immigrants from other countries who wanted to move there. Local attorneys had processed the applications quickly and easily until then, but, suddenly, they found themselves apologising that applications were taking seemingly forever. Years went by and virtually no applications received either an approval or a rejection. The system simply froze and no new residencies occurred.

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After years of this problem, it eventually became apparent that, whilst the government feared a flood of new residents, they didn’t want to be perceived as being “restrictive,” so they, without explanation, simply stopped processing applications.

The Uruguayan government was, therefore, less forthcoming than the Panamanian government, but the message was the same—the welcome mat had been pulled in.

These are recent examples of countries fearing a large influx of immigrants, but the practice goes back for millennia.

In 1938, the US government became aware that significant numbers of Jews were hoping to exit Nazi Germany. President Roosevelt convened a conference in Évian-les-Bains, France, bringing together thirty-two countries. Although Mister Roosevelt wanted to maintain the US image as being a champion of freedom, in truth, he didn’t want to take in Jewish immigrants, so he set out to get other countries to agree to refuse additional immigrants, so that the US would not stand out as being inhumane.

The US did its best to make this a low-key affair and to try to ensure the outcome even before the conference convened (Israel’s Golda Meir was not permitted to speak or even participate in the proceedings).

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The result of the conference was that only one country (the Dominican Republic) agreed to increase the number of Jewish refugees that it would accept. The others either froze their existing limits (many of which had already been met) or diminished them.

Thousands of Jews sailed on ships from Hamburg in order to escape Germany before it became illegal to exit, yet ships leaving Hamburg were turned away at their intended destinations and had to return to Hamburg. As is well-known, those who could not escape faced the Nazis’ “Final Solution”—death.

And so, the US—the country that prided itself on the stance, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”—was instrumental in seeing to it that these huddled masses were not only refused entry into the US, but into thirty other countries as well.

So, this may be a sad tale, but what does it have to do with the reader?

Well, as stated in the first two examples, if a country is becoming increasingly tyrannical and/or is experiencing civil unrest (the two generally go hand in hand), it’s not the exception but the norm for other countries to pull in the welcome mat.

Today, we’re seeing a dramatic increase in governmental controls in many of the countries of what was formerly known as “the free world,” and, predictably, unrest is on the rise. The number of demonstrations has increased to the point that, virtually every day, there are demonstrations in one of these countries.

We also bear witness to the fact that these demonstrations are becoming increasingly violent, even to the extent that organisations are springing up with the express purpose of introducing violence to demonstrations.

Many first-worlders who at one time felt quite at home where they were are now facing the fact that they’re feeling increasingly less safe there. Further, those who are projecting the current trends into the future are concluding that martial law may well be inevitable. Some welcome this idea, as they hope it will bring peace; others fear it, as they realise that they can become casualties of it.

On a weekly basis, I now hear from people from these countries who say, “If it gets any worse, I may just pick up and go—to one of the countries where this danger doesn’t exist.”

This position is, of course, advisable; however, talking about it and putting it into action are different matters.

As history shows us, those who wait until dramatic unrest has occurred find that once-welcoming countries tend to pull in the welcome mat. Once an exodus has begun, governments of target countries quickly advise that they’re all booked up and can accept no new residents.

Therefore, if an individual wishes to create a “personal safety insurance policy,” he must, like any insurance, take out the policy before it’s needed. He must establish the legal right to reside in a jurisdiction that’s less likely to develop unrest. If he can manage it, he’d also benefit from the ownership of a residence in such a jurisdiction. (If he has limited funds, he can buy a condo, which is rented out most of the year and may therefore cost him nothing.)

An interesting historical fact is that if and when a country closes the doors to further immigration, they tend to honour the approvals that already exist and simply reject further applications. Therefore, those who have planned ahead and created their insurance policy almost always have an exit plan that will work.

Therefore, if the reader lives in a country where his community works well together, his neighbours are both helpful and supportive, and the police still busy themselves rescuing cats from trees, he is very fortunate and may well sit back and enjoy both his present and his future.

However, if the reader lives in a country where the police are now wearing black riot gear, where basic freedoms are being removed “for your own safety,” and where the government continually warns of potential increases in “domestic terrorism,” he might wish to consider whether he needs a personal safety insurance policy—an exit plan, which, should it be needed, will place him at the front of the queue, should the present number of those exiting increase significantly.

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Tags: venezuela, second passport, panama, economic collapse,