Brazil declares state of emergency as thousands of Venezuelans arrive

World Today

Brazil has declared a state of emergency in the northern border state of Roraima. It’s the result of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing an economic crisis at home.

The measure frees up funding for extra security, health care and transportation to relocate Venezuelans to different parts of the country.

CGTN’s Lucrecia Franco reports.

Along a 2,000 kilometer border, security has been stepped up. It’s a complicated and delicate problem for Brazilian border patrol because not everyone is entering through the only official crossing at Pacaraima.

The major concern now is that undocumented migrants are crossing dangerous trails and there has also been an increase in criminal activity.

Mostly poor, with limited skills, an estimated 600-800 per day are coming to Brazil from all parts of Venezuela.

“Crimes like contraband and smuggling come with humanitarian crises. People who are vulnerable, like these Venezuelans who are leaving a terrible situation to come to Brazil, can easily turn to crime,” said Captain Felipe Lima, Commander, Third Border Platoon.

Unlike Colombia which has tightened its border, Venezuelans are free to enter Brazil, but are now subject to greater security checks.

Personal belongings and vehicles are searched thoroughly. Some are feeling the stress of leaving everything behind.

“Leaving your roots to go to another country is tough,” migrant Juan Duque said.

Last month Brazil’s President, Michel Temer, visited Roraima to assess the situation.

“We will send all necessary resources, we won’t set down amounts now, but I’ve committed myself to solve this situation with the Venezuelans in Roraima,” Temer said.

Providing vaccinations against diseases such as Measles and Yellow Fever is part of Brazil’s emergency plan. Health care in Venezuela is collapsing.

No census has been conducted yet, but Venezuelans are crowding Roraima’s capital, Boa Vista.

According to official data, four or five Venezuelan babies are born there every day.

And local authorities are worried.

“It is a situation that makes me feel impotent. The state government alone cannot solve it. So, more measures need to be taken by the federal government,” said Suely Campos, Roraiman Governor.

 As patrols double along the border and food, shelter and healthcare aid increases.

The Brazilian government is scrambling to come up with strategies to relocate thousands of Venezuelans to other parts of the country.