A series of early morning arson attacks has left five Venezuelan migrants injured in Brazil’s northern city of Boa Vista. A shed housing roughly thirty migrants was reportedly doused in gasoline and set ablaze, according to Venezuela Analysis.
Colombia, Brazil Tighten Security Measures Against Venezuelans
Although just a single room burst into flames, a couple and their four-year-old daughter were injured as a result of the attack. While all three remain in the hospital, second-degree burns were registered on large parts of the mother and daughters’ bodies.
In a separate incident, security camera footage released by Brazil’s Civil Police showed someone throwing a Molotov cocktail onto a porch where a Venezuelan couple was asleep in the early morning hours. The woman was treated by medical staff for severe burns on her chest and neck.
Human rights activists attribute the attacks, which are on the rise in cities and towns near the border with Venezuela, on xenophobic discourses articulated by Brazilian elites. Why? To shift the burden of crumbing social services on the influx of migrants.
“It’s not true that resources are lacking for hospitals or schools because of Venezuelans,” state public defender Jaime Brasil Filho told Amazonia Real. “The elites who steal have always chosen to blame migrants or segments of society with fewer material resources or less political power for our underdevelopment when they themselves are the culprits.”
Government figures show that Venezuelan migrants comprise 10 percent of Boa Vista’s total population. Zoe Dutka, a local resident, has described the influx of people as a “humanitarian crisis.” She said they sleep rough, in “parks, plazas, the islands between highways, the middle of traffic circles,” all the while lacking clean “water, or access to bathrooms, or basic security, and are stigmatized daily and attacks on them are frequent.”
Forty-eight human rights organizations have released a statement denouncing the violence perpetrated against immigrants. They said this public security issue “puts in jeopardy the security and the dignity of those people who seek protection and a welcoming environment in Brazil.”