Chinese workers are invited to Colombia as executives on a business visa only to end up living illegally in the country working at Chinese restaurants.
This is a criminal tactic used by a network of people traffickers which extorts the Chinese migrants charging them COP10,ooo,ooo ($600,000) for the service, according to an investigation carried out by El Tiempo newspaper.
It is estimated that there are at least 7,000 Chinese citizens in this situation in Colombia.
To obtain a visa allowing them to leave China, the migrants use letters of invitation from mayors, language centers, corporate companies and even circuses who claim that they need jugglers.
A source who used to work for one of the ringleaders of this people trafficking network told El Tiempo, “Once in Bogota they (the migrants) bribe a civil servant linked to the Foreign Ministry, known as ‘Monca’, to issue them residency visas.”
Reporters form El Tiempo went to four Chinese restaurants in Bogota on Thursday and found three workers who were supposedly executives for an imports and exports business.
El Tiempo investigated the case of five Chinese migrants who arrived in Colombia in May 2012, invited by the mayor of Puerto Salgar, Fernando Muñoz. Muñoz told the Colombian consulate in Hong Kong that these Chinese citizens had important knowledge and experience in agricultural technology.
The mayor told El Tiempo that those Chinese citizens were invited to Puerto Salgar “for a solar energy project. They were experts in the field,” before he hung up the phone.
Two days before the temporary visa expired, one of those workers invited by Muñoz, Chen Yanfeng, wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs saying that he was setting up an agricultural company that would generate employment and contribute to the Colombian economy.
Yanfeng secured his new business visa after a process that lasted only a few hours. His business is registered at the address of a Chinese restaurant in Bogota.
Two other municipalities which also extended similar invitations to Chinese migrants face allegations and are being dealt with by the authorities.