Brazil’s President Michel Temer announced an emergency meeting of government Sunday after deploying troops to the border town of Pacaraima where Venezuelan migrants clashed with residents.
Temer met with key officials at his presidential palace, including those of defense, public security, and foreign affairs, but limited details were disclosed, said the AFP.
The situation in Pacaraima was critical on Saturday, migrant camps were overwhelmed by angry residents following reports that a local restaurant owner had been attacked by a gang of Venezuelans.
There has been growing hostility towards the numbers of Venezuelan migrants entering the Roraima state, Brazil’s northernmost region, in recent months.
Groups of men carrying blunt objects set fire to the camps and other items belonging to the Venezuelans, and more than one thousand migrants fled town back across the border.
“More than 1,200 Venezuelan migrants returned to Venezuela,” after Saturday’s violence, a spokesman for a Brazilian migration task force told AFP.
“The city looks deserted today, it’s very quiet because police reinforcements have arrived and the markets are reopening,” said a local in the town of around 12,000, who did not want to be identified.
Brazil’s public security ministry said it deployed 60 government soldiers to support the police in the area. They are due to arrive on Monday.
Shocking footage of the migrant crisis in Pacaraima was caught on video:
“Vebezuelanos being expelled from Pacaraima (Roraima City on the border with Venezuela). The state of Roraima no longer supports and the Federal government does @MichelTemer nothing to help, we are collapsing. This is going to turn into a war!” said a Twitter user.
Vebezuelanos sendo expulsos de Pacaraima (Cidade Roraimense na fronteira com Venezuela). O Estado de Roraima não suporta mais e o governo Federal @MichelTemer não faz nada para ajudar, estamos entrando em colapso.
Isso vai virar uma guerra! pic.twitter.com/HSfMFkPfum
— Luiz Gustavo (@luiz_hilario) August 18, 2018
Video of the migrants being expelled from the town.
Revolta da população em Pacaraima na divisa do Brasil com a Venezuela, expulsando os venezuelanos. @BolsonaroSP @jairbolsonaro @BolsonaroSP @Bopressor20 #JairMessiasBolsonaro pic.twitter.com/DG7dKBMOuR
— Robert Prestes (@PRESTESROBERT) August 18, 2018
Brazilians burn items belonging to migrants.
POLÍTICA DE FRONTEIRAS ABERTAS
Quando o Estado fecha o olhos para o problema a população se revolta e toma uma atitude. Após um taxista brasileiro ser agredido por um venezuelano a população decidiu expulsar todos de Pacaraima/RR e fechar a fronteira. pic.twitter.com/wFOhBDnrVm
— Thiago Barroso (@thiagobarroso30) August 18, 2018
Brazilians cheer when a tractor demolishes one migrant camp structure.
— Tetê (@Te_Te_9e) August 18, 2018
Migrants running for the hills.
#URGENTE – BRASIL ???????? / RR
Clima é de tensão na fronteira entre Brasil e Venezuela, no município de Pacaraima, Roraima. Ministério da Segurança Pública diz que situação “está sob controle”
— Breaking News [BR] (@BreakingBR_) August 18, 2018
Another view of the chaos.
— Ruptly (@Ruptly) August 20, 2018
“It was terrible, they burned the tents and everything that was inside,” said Carol Marcano, a Venezuelan who works in Boa Vista and was on the border returning from Venezuela. “There were shots, they burned rubber tires.”
Roraima state Governor Suely Campos pleaded with Brasilia over the weekend to send security reinforcements to “face the increase in crime” she associates with Venezuelans in the region, particularly in the capital Boa Vista.
Meanwhile, Caracas, the Capital of Venezuela, called on Brazil Saturday to provide “corresponding guarantees to Venezuelan nationals and take measures to safeguard and secure their families and belongings.”
The uptick in violence came amid surging tensions in Latin America over migration triggered by the economic collapse in Venezuela.
According to the latest figures from the United Nations, more than 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their country – mostly for Colombia, Ecuador, Brazil and Peru.
UN officials have also reported that 1.3 million of those migrants are now suffering from malnourishment, with food shortages running wild in parts of Latin America.
With another emerging markets-style crisis developing, the weakest currencies in Latin America (Argentina, Brazil, Venezuela, etc..) have been some of the ones with the most external hard currency borrowing, political turmoil, and/or the highest current account deficits, second to Turkey.
The role of the US in this crisis should also not be underestimated, as the steady increase in dollar interest rates and quantitative tightening by the Federal Reserve have led to a “currency tantrum” in the emerging markets.
Fed Balance Sheet versus iShares S&P Latin America 40 Index