Venezuela unrest leads to more migrants at the Brazil border
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — The number of Venezuelans crossing into Brazil rose this week amid an escalation in their homeland’s political unrest, the Brazilian military said Thursday.
According to official data, a total of 1,418 Venezuelans registered with authorities at a checkpoint in the northern state of Roraima on Tuesday and Wednesday. That was three times as many as a week earlier.
In comparison, the United Nations’ office in Brazil said data from the country’s federal police indicate an average of 474 Venezuelans entered Brazil daily in February. Federal police officials could not be contacted to confirm the numbers.
This week’s rise in border crossing coincided with an attempted uprising against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, led by opposition leader Juan Guaidó. Maduro remained in power, but the upheaval produced violent street clashes between protesters and government forces on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Maduro closed Venezuela’s border with Brazil on Feb. 21 to block the delivery of humanitarian aid, meaning Venezuelan migrants have had to find alternative routes to get into Brazil.
In addition to its political conflict, Venezuela has been wracked by hyperinflation that has wiped out the buying power of wages and there are widespread shortages of basic foods and medicine. U.N. officials estimate 3.7 million Venezuelans have fled the country in recent years, many of them going to neighboring Brazil and Colombia.