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  • President Juan Manuel Santos says he is committed to helping recently deported Colombians.

    President Juan Manuel Santos says he is committed to helping recently deported Colombians. | Photo: EFE

Published 26 August 2015
Opinion

The president spoke from the border town of Cucuta.

Colombia's President Juan Manuel Santos highlighted Wednesday his government efforts to help Colombians recently deported from Venezuela.

The head of state visited the border city of Cucuta where most of the deported have landed, and explained his government is actively working to help the 1097 people officially registered by the authorities.

“In Colombia, you should feel at home,” said Santos.

The president explained coordinated efforts were being carried out to give jobs to the deported population, explaining they have initiated state-funded projects in the area that will provide for around 600 jobs in rural areas and 300 in the city of Cucuta.

“There's not one single Colombian deported sleeping without a mattress or a roof … without the basic needs for their well-being. We have been able to provide relief to every deported citizen registered,” he added.

RELATED: Colombia and Venezuela To Work on Improved Border Situation

Santos announced each citizen deported would receive a government subsidy of 250,000 pesos (US$77.66) in cash to rent a place and leave the shelters. 

He further revealed a plan was underway, awaiting the approval of Venezuela, to help deported citizens to recover the objects they left behind after leaving the country.

“We have 15 trucks ready to recover these objects … we also have the personnel to help all these families,” Santos said.

The president announced a massive campaign led by the Education Ministry to sign up the deported children in schools, as many of them were studying in Venezuela.

His visit to Cucuta comes after former president and current Senator Alvaro Uribe visited the city on Tuesday to show support with the deported and promote his party Democratic Center for the upcoming local government elections in October.

“I did not come here to talk to Venezuela, to talk about Venezuela … I came here to talk to you,” explained Santos, striking contrast with Uribe's speech on Tuesday which hevaily criticized the Venezuelan government. 

On Monday, the Foreign Minister Maria Angela Holguin and the Interior Minister Juan Fernando Cristo were booed by supporters of Uribe during their visit to the border.

Uribe has harshly criticized the Santos government for seeking a amicable diplomatic relations between both countries.

“I want to remind all of you deported that Colombia will greet you with open arms. You are coming back home and you're not strangers to this lands. This is your house,” said Santos.

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