Brazilian President Michel Temer is set to travel to the city of Boa Vista tomorrow, ground zero for the Venezuelan migrant influx into the country, in order to help craft a national response to the growing crisis. The move follows a visit to the border city of Cucuta by Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos last week for the same purpose, and signals the growing international recognition of the Venezuelan exodus.
Temer’s visit was precipitated by a call from Romero Juca, the parliamentary representative for the Roraima state of Brazil, which has been bearing the brunt of the Venezuelan migration into the country. Boa Vista is the capital of Roraima state, and is the largest urban centre to the Venezuelan border, situated some 200 kilometers away from the nearest crossing.
According to Boa Vistan authorities, some 40,000 Venezuelans have arrived in the city over the past few months, seeking refuge from misery in Venezuela. If the figure is accurate, the number of Venezuelans in Boa Vista today accounts for roughly 13% of the city’s population. A Roraima government spokesperson said that the influx of migrants is getting worse, and that it is already threatening to overwhelm the city’s ability to respond. The spokesperson said:
The situation is getting worse. There are more and more [Venezuelans] arriving, and there is no place to house them so that we can get them off the streets.
On his outlook for the trip and the kinds of measures he would like the Brazilian government to take, Temer pointed out that the country’s “diplomatic dispute” with Venezuela should not take precedent over the desire to provide “humanitarian aid” to Venezuelan migrants.
President Temer’s visit follows an announcement on Thursday by Minister of Defense Raul Jungmann that 100 more soldiers will be sent to the border crossing in Roraima. When he made the announcement, Jungmann said:
This is a humanitarian drama. Venezuelans are being expelled from their country due to hunger and lack of employment and medicine.
One Arrested For Attacking Venezuelan Migrants in Boa Vista
Yesterday, Brazilian police arrested an individual in Boa Vista who is suspected of having firebombed the homes of Venezuelan migrants in the city over the past two weeks. The attacks resulted in injuries to five migrants.
News of the arrest came from the Roraima state’s official Twitter account, which revealed that a child and his parents had been burned in one of the attacks.
The [individual] suspected of having burned a child and his parents is now in custody by the homicide unit. The suspect is not Brazilian. The Roraima security forces are acting energetically to curb all forms of violence.
Brazilian authorities said that the suspect is a 42-year-old Guyanese man named Gordon Fowler, who expressed “hatred” at Venezuelans after he was allegedly robbed by one.
Caracas, Sections of Miranda State Without Water
Caracas and some sections of Miranda state will go without water for as long as 36 hours, after service to the area was shut off in order to perform maintenance on a vital piece of water infrastructure. The shut-off began at midnight last night.
State-owned television has announced that hospitals will still receive water.
Army Assault on Mining Camp Leaves 18 Civilians Dead
Venezuelan army forces attacked a mining camp in the Cicapra region of Bolivar States yesterday, killing at least 18 civilians at the site. According to military sources, the individuals were part of a criminal gang that was involved in illegal mining and other activities in the area.
The authorities also claim that a number of weapons were recovered at the site, including two rifles, ten handguns, a shotgun and two grenades.
National Assembly deputy Americo De Grazia, who represents the state, reacted to the news by questioning the official version of events and asking what kind of investigation had been conducted at the scene. De Grazia said:
#MassacreInCicapra in the Guasipati mines. A confrontation between the army and miners? 18 citizens were killed and not a single soldier was injured? Which prosecutor investigated the scene of the crime? They’re “clearing” these gold mining areas with blood and fire: to what end?
Large sections of Bolivar state contain what in Venezuela is called the Arco Minero, a zone that is believed to be rich in natural resources like gold. The Arco appears to have attracted the attention of criminal organizations hoping to exploit the resources.
The Venezuelan military is also suspected of participating in illegal mineral exploitation in the area, sometimes with deadly results, as factions battle one another for territory and control of mines.
On March 8, 2016, state security forces working alongside criminal elements are suspected of having murdered as many as 28 miners were murdered in Tumeremo, Bolivar state, in what is believed to have been a fight over territory.
Student Groups Call for Mass Protests on February 12
Venezuela’s student groups are calling for a massive demonstration in Caracas on February 12, to commemorate the anti-government protests of 2014 and the lives lost during the campaign. That year, tens of thousands of Venezuelans took to the streets of their towns and cities to voice their discontent against the Maduro regime. The 2014 protests lasted for approximately three months, and left at least 38 people dead. Menus
The name of the march this year is “Unidos for la Vidad” [United for Life]. The march is scheduled to begin at the Plaza Las America shopping mall in El Cafetal, Caracas starting at 10:30 AM. From there, the demonstrators will march to the Cementerio del Este, where the bodies of Oscar Perez and Jose Alejandro Pimentel are buried.
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