In response to border security concerns while thousands of Venezuelans seek admission, Brazil is sending armed forces to keep order near the Venezuelan border area. Meanwhile, Peru has declared a health emergency in the midst of a humanitarian crisis linked to Venezuela’s collapsing economy and increasingly authoritarian government. Brazilian President Michel Temer has signed a decree authorizing the deployment of the army to Roraima -- a state that borders Venezuela. Earlier this month, Brazilians rioted at a border town in reaction to the influx of Venezuelan refugees.

Temer said that his decree is intended to keep order and ensure the physical integrity of arriving migrants. Blaming Venezuela’s socialist government, Temer said in a televised address, “The problem of Venezuela is no longer one of internal politics. It is a threat to the harmony of the whole continent.”

Peru’s government published a decree in the official gazette that declared a 60-day health emergency in two northern border provinces. While the decree noted that there exists an "imminent danger" to health and sanitation, no further details were provided. However, concerns have been expressed by health authorities about the spread of contagious diseases, such as malaria and measles, from migrants.

Averring national governments’ concerns, the United Nations declared this week that the region is facing a "crisis moment" that may be compared to the onslaught of migrants crossing the Mediterranean from Africa to Europe. 

On Tuesday, immigration officials from Brazil, Colombia, and Peru met in the Colombian capital to discuss how to response to the crisis. Currently, there are approximately 1 million Venezuelans living in Colombia and more than 400,000 in Peru, according to a joint statement. Only 178,000 migrants in Peru have legal permission to stay or are being processed. Colombia and Peru have agreed to share a database of information on migrants in order to track arrivals and distribute humanitarian aid. The foreign ministers of Colombia and Ecuador will meet next week to discuss the crisis. The foreign ministers of Brazil and Peru may also join the discussions. 

In what his critics have dubbed a publicity stunt, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro invited his compatriots to return from exile. On Tuesday, the Venezuelan government claimed that 89 of its citizens have been repatriated from Peru, having supposedly experienced “humiliation and cruel treatment."

Earlier this month, both Ecuador and Peru began requiring passports from Venezuelans seeking admission. The two countries had heretofore accepted Venezuelan national ID cards. Peru has also become more restrictive about granting work permits to Venezuelans. When Peru began requiring passports on Saturday, the number of Venezuelans entering the country dropped by more than half to 1,630, according to Peru’s immigration agency. Hundreds more Venezuelans without passports are still seeking admission. 



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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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