OAS accepts Peru’s motion for special Permanent Council meeting on EU migration law

The Organization of American States on Tuesday accepted Peru’s request to hold a special meeting of the Permanent Council in Washington later this week to address the European Union’s approval of a tough new illegal immigration law.

The law passed by the European Parliament last week calls for detention of illegal immigrants for up to 18 months ahead of deportation and the imposition of a five-year ban from re-entry into Europe.

Peru’s representative to the OAS, Ambassador María Zavala told CPN that Peru’s motion was supported by Guatemala, Paraguay, Bolivia, El Salvador, and Colombia. The OAS Permanent Council meeting is scheduled for Thursday.

Governments throughout the hemisphere were outraged by the EU Parliament’s decision, which they say contradicts a joint pledge by Latin American and European heads of state to seek greater cooperation in forging bilateral immigration policies — a commitment made just last month in Lima during the Fifth ALC-EU summit.

Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez registered the most extreme reaction, calling the law “shameful” and threatening on Friday to cut off Venezuelan supplies of crude oil to Europe if the measure is ratified.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza said Tuesday the region-wide expressions of anger are understandable.

“I believe a request for a clear explanation must be made and a change in the terms of debate, so that it is a multilateral debate. Let the issues be discussed, argued, but not impoged,” Insulza told CPN. “I hope the Europeans understand that they are not in a position to impose terms in this manner.”

The heads of the Peruvian and Colombian legislatures each spoke out against the EU migration law during a ceremony Tuesday in Lima.

“The Congress of Peru demands that Europe, which has always flown the flags of liberty, social justice and solidarity, redesign this law,” Peruvian Congressional President Luis Gonzales Posada told reporters. “We must speak out in defense of 1.8 million Latin Americans, of which 200,000 are Peruvians, whose liberty and rights are being threatened by this latest decision by the European Parliament.”

Gonzalez was flanked by Colombian Congressional President Nancy Patricia Gutiérrez, who called for a unified campaign against the law in the OAS and United Nations.

“It is necessary for us to find points of integration and to put out communiques from within the OAS and UN that will permit the formation of a bloc around this issue,” she said.

She added that her office had been in communication with Chilean lawmaker Jorge Pizarro, president of the Latin American Parliament, requesting an urgent meeting to formulate a joint statement to relay to the EU Parliament.

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