Dayana Camacho Favara decided to emigrate to Spain in 2016 when she was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in Venezuela and was told that the medication she needed was not available in the country. The alternative: was Spain or Germany, where the most advanced treatment was available.
From Criminal Lawyer in Venezuela to Legal Advisor for Migrants in Spain: Dayana Camacho Favara’s Story
She chose Spain because of the language and her husband bought tickets through Conviasa. The idea was to arrive and ask for asylum on humanitarian grounds. A few days before their departure, the airline suspended flights to Spain.
Dayana’s husband is Venezuelan-Colombian. So Colombia became a bridging country. He left first to take advantage of a job offer. She joined him on September 5, 2017. “These are dates you don’t forget.”
Dayana’s mother is Italian and was not naturalized. She asked the Italian consulate in Venezuela for help and the answer was practically “come tomorrow”.
That was in December and in February “they gave Italian passports to my mother, myself and my two daughters. Not my husband, because he does not speak Italian. My mother went to Spain first because she is an oncology patient.”
Colombia, the first lesson
Dayana has been involved with the Venezuelan justice system since she was 18 years old. Two of her uncles were lawyers and when she decided to emigrate, she worked as an assistant in a criminal court.
She knew little about immigration law: “I saw something of it in criminal and civil law; when I have to deal with immigration, I know that part of the law where the humanitarian and the legal go hand in hand.”
My first experience in Colombia was not getting a job. “My visa said I was a lawyer and I was considered overrated. I was told that in Colombia, lawyers and doctors are considered very high status. I came home demoralized and exhausted. One day my husband told me not to look anymore and that we could support ourselves with his income.”
So she joined the Angeles del Porvenir Foundation, where she met another Venezuelan criminal lawyer. They both felt that there was something irregular about this foundation. The president was Colombian, lived in Holland and only tried to recruit young women and women with daughters.
They knew that the suspicion was well-founded when they were informed that the president of the foundation had been arrested in Greece for selling marijuana and that the purpose of “Angeles del Porvenir” was the trafficking of women. He was taking Venezuelan girls to Colombia.
“The mothers gave them to him with the promise that he would marry them. From that moment on, I decided to work to help Venezuelan migrants, because I’m sure there are many more like this man”.
With this purpose in mind, she joined the COLVENZ organization, where she became the director of the Bogotá section.
– We started with the issue of migrants, I participated in the Temporary Permit Project. So I started in the migrant world with situations of regularization, how to enroll children in school and the war with the tutelage because they were not given places in schools to Venezuelan children. The UN and the OAS recognized us as Venezuelan leaders in Colombia.
It was a lesson that lasted one year and seven months.
Spain, Second Lesson and Postgraduate Studies
Dayana arrived in Spain in April 2019. At first, she continued to work online for COLVENZ, but the change in schedule made the working relationship unfeasible.
—Since I arrived in Spain, I researched the immigration laws, regulations and everything related to migrating to Spain. I joined a group of Venezuelans in Granada where I gave advice.
So, without thinking about it, without looking for it, they began to recommend me as the lawyer who helps Venezuelans and now Latinos and Poles, as long as the immigrant’s destination is Spain, which is where I am and where the laws and regulations I deal with come from.
Now I have weekly meetings through Zoom where I clarify doubts, not only for Venezuelans.
I give them step by step how to emigrate to Spain, so that they do not arrive without knowing what to do, with the idea of asking for asylum, but without knowing if it is the best alternative, how or where to do it.
Dayana clarifies that she is a lawyer with a master’s degree in criminal law in Venezuela, not in Spain:
— In Spain, I am in the process of equivalence, because due to a new law, it can no longer be homologated, but I have to validate it in order to practice law. For the time being, I have enrolled in a university master’s program to become a manager and register with the Colegio de Gestores.
I am currently working with a lawyer who is already accredited, so he has the right to practice law. To validate lawyers here is almost like redoing the degree because we have to take 22 to 24 subjects again, do a thesis and take a test before the Ministry of Justice.
All of this takes five to six years. With the master’s degree and the equivalence, I can register with the Association of Managers and then I can submit the paperwork. This is different from Venezuela, where we graduated as lawyers.
Here the title is Bachelor in Law or Bachelor in Juridical and Political Sciences and then a qualifying Master’s degree to have the title of Attorney at Law or Lawyer.
She specifies that her intention is “to help and assist those who ask me and when a lawyer is needed, I work with one for whom I prepare the files and talk to him so that the fees are as economical as possible“.
Dayana keeps in mind her first lesson as an immigrant: Migration is an area of law where the humanitarian and the legal go hand in hand.