Brazil on Tuesday said it was sending armed forces to keep order near the Venezuelan border, while Peru declared a health emergency, as a regional crisis sparked by thousands of Venezuelans fleeing economic collapse escalated.
Brazilian President Michel Temer signed a decree to deploy the armed forces to the border state of Roraima, saying the move was aimed at keeping order and ensuring the safety of immigrants.
Meanwhile, Peru declared a 60-day health emergency in two provinces on its northern border, citing “imminent danger” to health and sanitation.
The decree, published in the government’s official gazette, did not give more details on the risks, but health authorities have previously expressed concerns about the spread of diseases, such as measles and malaria, from migrants.
Temer blamed the socialist government of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro for the migration crisis.
“The problem of Venezuela is no longer one of internal politics — it is a threat to the harmony of the whole continent,” Temer said in a televised address.
Top immigration officials from Peru, Colombia and Brazil met in Colombian capital, Bogota, for a summit to discuss how to cope with the influx.
There are nearly 1 million Venezuelans living in Colombia and more than 400,000 in Peru, the nations said in a joint statement after the meeting on Tuesday.
Just 178,000 of those in Peru have legal permission to stay or are being processed.
In an attempt to track arrivals and distribute aid, the governments of Colombia and Peru said they would share information about migrants in a database.
Venezuela on Tuesday said it had repatriated 89 citizens who had migrated to Peru, but sought to return after receiving “cruel treatment.”
“They listened to the siren call from abroad ... and all they found in Lima was racism, disdain and persecution,” Maduro told a news conference.
Venezuelans should stop leaving the country to clean toilets and return to the “country of opportunity,” he added.
Oscar Perez, an activist who works with Venezuelan migrants in Peru, said the repatriation was a publicity stunt by the Venezuelan government.
An official at the Peruvian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declined to comment on the repatriation, saying that the nation was focused on regional solutions.
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