Several independent sources confirmed that Hungary accepted approximately 300 refugees from Venezuela after the country’s descent into political and economic turmoil, Index.hu wrote on Thursday.
Government officials insist that the program is not secret.
According to the article, Venezuelan refugees receive a free plane ticket to Budapest, free accommodation for a year, integration program with a free Hungarian and English language course, and settlement paper that allows them to legally work a few weeks after their arrival.
“The state only examines if the refugees have any Hungarian ancestors. All the refugees we’ve met seemed Hungarian only virtually: one of their grandparents were Hungarian, and not even their parents spoke the language anymore. A huge majority of them learned their first Hungarian words after they arrived in Hungary, and they had their first contact with the local culture here as well. The first and last names of the Venezuelan refugees we spoke to were not Hungarian,” the article adds.
Index points out that “the weirdest thing” about the program is the “utmost secrecy” which surrounds it. “The Venezuelans we spoke to told us that the program organizers asked them to not speak about the circumstances of their arrival to anyone,” the article claims.
The issue came up at the weekly press conference of Gergely Gulyas, the minister heading the prime minister’s office. The people in question were Hungarians living in Venezuela “and Hungarians in Hungary aren’t considered migrants,” Gulyas stressed. He said the government had said back in April of last year that Hungarian families would be arriving from Venezuela.
There are a significant number of Hungarians living in Venezuela, Gulyas said, adding that the government plans to bring around 30 more Hungarian families from the South American country to Hungary.
“We object to the liberal press calling Venezuela Hungarians migrants. They’re not migrants,” Deputy Prime Minister Zsolt Semjen told MTI. “All Hungarians, wherever they may be in the world, can count on the motherland,” he said.
Meanwhile, the leftist-liberal opposition Democratic Coalition (DK) has called on ruling Fidesz to register as an organization that supports migration which would oblige the party to pay a special 25 percent tax. Citing news portal Index’s report on the government’s admission of Venezuelan Hungarians, DK managing director Csaba Molnar accused the government of taking in refugees in secret after having “waged a hate campaign” against them for years.
Molnar said DK’s problem was not with the government’s decision to admit refugees, but that “it has been campaigning for the opposite for a long time”. By taking in the refugees from Venezuela, the government has admitted that its anti-refugee campaign “is just about fueling fear”, Molnar insisted. The cabinet, which is rhetorically against migration, “has become one of the most prominent supporters of migration,” he said.