Brazilian President Michel Temer criticized the government of neighboring Venezuela for leading that country into a crisis that is causing an exodus of refugees into northern Brazil. Brasilia has called for democratic reforms by Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, who has consolidated power as his country’s economic crisis deepens with shortages of food and medicine.
But in a radio interview, Temer went further and blamed Maduro’s government for the humanitarian crisis that has led to hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the country, mainly into neighboring Colombia.
“We are locked in a diplomatic confrontation,” Temer said on Radio Guaiba.
“We disagree with the way things are going in Venezuela that has brought thousands of refugees to Roraima,” he said of the northern state bordering Venezuela, where an estimated 40,000 refugees have arrived since last year, straining public services in the city of Boa Vista.
Brazil will deploy more troops to strengthen the border and start relocating Venezuelan refugees to other Brazilian cities, Defense Minister Raul Jungmann said in Boa Vista.
Meanwhile, Brazilian authorities are investigating arsons at two separate residences where Venezuelans were living that they believe were committed by the same person, a police official said.
Last Monday, a person threw an incendiary device into a house in the northern city of Boa Vista, injuring a man and a woman, police investigator Cristiano Camapum told reporters at a press conference. On Thursday, a similar attack occurred at another house, and two adults and their 3-year-old child were injured. Several Venezuelans were living in each house.
Grainy security camera footage of Monday’s incident shows a man setting something alight and then throwing it over a wall around the house.
Camapum said authorities believe they have identified a suspect and that he committed both acts and possibly a third similar attack on a business last month. But investigators are still trying to determine if the presence of foreigners in the houses was a motive for the attack.
Separately, Colombia has contacted international lending agencies about devising a financial rescue plan worth up to US$60 billion for neighboring Venezuela if Maduro leaves power, Colombia’s finance minister said on Friday.