The Brazilian government is to create a work group tasked with addressing issues connected with the immigration of Venezuelans in Roraima, a state in north Brazil. The announcement was made Monday (Feb 12) by President Michel Temer at a meeting with state officials in state capital Boa Vista. The government is to announce a provisional presidential decree this week on the issue.
Temer interrupted the Carnival break with his family in the naval base of Restinga da Marambaia, Rio de Janeiro. After the meeting he is expected to return to Rio.
Venezuelan immigrants enter Brazil through the state of Roraima everyday. City authorities in Boa Vista believe some 40 thousand Venezuelan nationals have come to the city in a bid to escape the political and economic crisis facing their country. The figure accounts for over 10% of the city's local population of some 330 thousand people.
The meeting was also attended by Roraima Governor Suely Campos and Boa Vista Mayor Teresa Surita. The committee to be created, Temer said, will be a partnership between the federal and the state governments, and should not interfere with “the internal affairs of Roraima.”
Temer pledged that “funding for addressing the issue will be ensured,” both in regards to the humanitarian aspect and for solving problems in the state stemming from immigration. “I will not rest until the problems in Roraima are solved,” he said.
Temer stated that, if the necessary measures are not taken, the problem will spill over to other states. He argued for the protection of territorial integrity and the jobs of Roraima residents, without disregard for the “humanitarian situation” facing the immigrants.
The president went on to say that “no one is to hinder the entrance of refugees” in Brazil, adding, however, that the government will make it possible in an “orderly” way. Temer was accompanied by Defense Minister Raul Jungmann, Justice Minister Torquarto Jardim, the president's Secretary-General Moreira Franco, and Sergio Etchegoyen, of the Cabinet for Institutional Security.
Temer's trip to Roraima comes five days after the visit paid by the same government officials, who flew to Boa Vista to address the topic. In the occasion, Roraima's government handed in a document listing 11 measures to mitigate the impact caused by the large number of Venezuelan immigrants in recent months.
Among the measures, the state government reports, are boosting the number of police agents and the participation of the Brazilian Army in guarding the town of Pacaraima, on the country's border with Venezuela. Also, more strict action regarding the control of the entrance of people through the national borders and the donation of vehicles and equipment to Roraima's state security forces.
On Saturday (10), Roraima police arrested a man suspected of torching houses inhabited by Venezuelans in Boa Vista. He confessed the crime. According to the authorities, Guyanese man Gordon Fowler, also known as Jamaica, said he holds nothing in particular against the victims. He said he had his bicycle stolen in an incident stemming from a misunderstanding with Venezuelans. The accused said he had started to “hold a grudge” against Venezuelans and decided to take revenge.
Since early in February, there have been at least two attacks carried out against Venezuelans in the city. The first took place in the early hours last Monday (5), and the victims were a woman and a man sleeping in the balcony of a house. The second case took place Thursday (8), when a woman and a three-year-old girl were severely injured.
Translated by Fabrício Ferreira