Hundreds of Venezuelans rushed to the Peruvian border in Ecuador during the overnight and early morning hours hoping to beat Lima’s new passport requirements, which kicked into effect today at noon. Under the new rules, Venezuelan migrants are required to present a valid passport upon entry. Previously, Venezuelan migrants could enter Peru by presenting a simple identification card at the border.
Ecuador attempted to implement a similar measure this week, but the measure was blocked for the next 45 days by a judge yesterday. The migrants’ dash to Peru was facilitated by the government of Ecuador, which provided transportation to the border.
Alejandra Rivero is one of the migrants who was awaiting transport to Peru last night. She told reporters:
They [the Ecuadorian authorities] are giving us bracelets. They’re telling us that they’re going to stamp our Andean card here, and then they’ll take us [to Peru]. They’re telling us that we have to be in Peru before 6:00 AM, because they’ll only let us go through until tomorrow.
Venezuelans enter Ecuador on foot through Colombia. From there, the journey to Peru lasts over 15 hours over more than 800 kilometers.
Peru’s new passport requirement is sure to limit the number of Venezuelans who enter the country, since passports are can be both prohibitively expensive to acquire. However, the new measure does not apply to children, pregnant women, and seniors.
According to the BBC, there are approximately 400,000 Venezuelans already living in Peru, with the majority of them having arrived within the last year.
Yesterday, a journalist named Alberto Yajure shared on his Twitter account a photograph taken by a man named Edu Leon. The image shows a Venezuelan father hugging his daughter on a street in Rumichaca, Ecuador. Below, the image along with my translation:
This picture from Edu Leon, published today in Univision, has shaken me since the morning. It’s a Venezuelan father in Rumichaca, Ecuador, hugging his daughter in the middle of the night in temperatures of almost five degrees. These are our brothers, our people, dispossessed, fleeing hunger.
Migrant: Ecuador “Lied to Us”
By the end of the day, reports began to appear in the media saying that the migrants’ dash through Ecuador into Peru had been a failure.
Audrey Mojica, a 25 year old migrant, spoke to AFP from the Peruvian border on the Ecuadorian side. She told journalists there that the Ecuadorian authorities who had promised to bus them into Peru had instead deliberately delayed them. Mojica said:
The [Ecuadorian] authorities lied to us. They had us as if we’d been arrested, and they delayed us to leave us practically stranded, neither in Ecuador nor in Peru.
Mojica said that the Ecuadorian police made the buses carrying the migrants “stop unnecessarily” along their journey, causing them to miss the window into Peru.
Joan David Torres, another migrant, agreed with Mojica. Torres said that the Ecuadorian authorities stopped the buses often to take pictures of the migrants. Torres said:
Se vio la maldad que habia [literally, “You could see the evil there”; roughly, “You could tell that they were doing it on purpose”]. Every 10 minutes they’d stop and take our pictures. We’re not clowns.
For people like Audrey and Joan, the fact that they were unable to enter Peru before noon today could mean that they will not be allowed to enter the country at all, given the new passport rules now in effect.
An official with the Ecuadorian government denied the allegations that they had deliberately delayed the migrants’ transport to Peru, saying
There was no attempt at all to slow down [the process]. I don’t think that the country would gain anything from that. The interest of the [government] ministries involved was to make way, to give a humanitarian and dignified way out while guaranteeing that all of their rights were being protected.
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