Venezuelan dictator Nicolás Maduro accused Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno on Tuesday of using “Nazi persecution” tactics to vet Venezuelan refugees in his country following the gruesome murder of a pregnant Ecuadorian woman and her child by her estranged Venezuelan boyfriend.
Moreno – nominally belonging to the socialist PAIS Alliance party, but increasingly one of the most vocal South American leaders opposing the Maduro regime – announced this week that he would create unspecified law enforcement “units” to monitor Venezuelan refugees flooding the country, targeting any criminals among them.
In remarks Tuesday, Maduro condemned the use of law enforcement to prevent Venezuelan refugees from committing violent acts in Ecuador, referring to Moreno as a “Nazi.”
“The Venezuelan migrants who live in Ecuador, who are the object of Nazi fascist persecution on the part of the government of Ecuador, [are] being beaten and persecuted,” Maduro insisted, according to El Nuevo Herald. “If the president of Ecuador hates Venezuela so much, return the remains of Antonio José de Sucre buried in the Quito Cathedral,” Maduro challenged, referring to an anti-Spanish Venezuelan leader who served as both president of Peru and Bolivia.
Maduro announced he would send airplanes to Ecuador to provide return flights home to refugees who wish to leave the country, asking the refugees to “come live in peace in Venezuela.”
Venezuela is currently undergoing the direst humanitarian crisis in its history, a result of two decades of socialist policies under Maduro and the late dictator Hugo Chávez. The average Venezuelan is estimated to have lost as much as 24 pounds involuntarily in 2017, the product of living in a country that has little to no access to food for the average citizen. Those who dare complain about the lack of food and near-total lack of medications face torture in sophisticated political prisons or death on the streets at the hands of the military.
Maduro’s regime has consistently rejected international humanitarian aid, denying the existence of a crisis. In 2018, the regime finally accepted medical aid from China as Beijing struggled to suppress protests at home from disgruntled parents whose children were given expired vaccines by one of the country’s largest medical corporations.
Maduro also took to Twitter yesterday to condemn Moreno, again referring to his call for better immigration security as “Nazi fascist persecution.”
“All my love to the Bolivarian people who have been the victims of Nazi fascist persecution promoted by the government of Ecuador,” he wrote. “I asked the Foreign Ministry to denounce these human rights violations and send a fleet of airplanes to return our brothers”:
Todo mi amor con el pueblo bolivariano que ha sido víctima de la persecución nazi-fascista promovida por el gobierno de Ecuador. Instruí a la cancillería para que denuncie esta violación de los DD.HH. y disponga de una flota de aviones para traer de vuelta a nuestros hermanos. pic.twitter.com/pxuZmWCxg7
— Nicolás Maduro (@NicolasMaduro) January 23, 2019
The Venezuelan Foreign Ministry issued a separate statement using more diplomatic language, nonetheless calling Moreno’s announcement of new safety measures “inexcusable” and “irresponsible.”
Moreno has “attempted to establish a correlation between domestic violence in Ecuador and the citizens of Venezuela,” the Ministry alleged. “Venezuela renounces and rejects the decision by the Ecuadorian government to create what it calls ‘brigades to control the legal situation of Venezuelans,’ which amounts to the criminalization of Venezuelan citizenship.”
The stabbing murder of Ecuadorian 22-year-old Diana Carolina Ramírez and her unborn child this weekend at the hands of her Venezuelan boyfriend prompted widespread attacks by Ecuadorians on Venezuelan refugees. According to the Venezuelans Abroad Foundation, at least 82 attacks on Venezuelan refugees were documented by Monday, including gang beatings of known refugees and at least four deaths in the town where Ramírez was killed.
Moreno has responded to the violence by assuring Ecuadorians that he would not allow foreigners to disturb the peace.
“Ecuador is and will be a country of peace,” he wrote in a statement posted on Twitter. “I will not allow any antisocials to take that away from us. The integrity of our mothers, daughters, and partners is my priority.”
“I have ordered the immediate creation of brigades to control the legal situation of Venezuelan immigrants on the streets, in workplaces, and on the border,” the statement continues. “We will analyze the possibility of creating a special permit to allow entry into the country”:
— Lenín Moreno (@Lenin) January 20, 2019
The attacks on Venezuelans in Ecuador are not unique in the region. In the two other countries taking in the majority of the thousands of Venezuelans fleeing the country, Colombia and Brazil, similar attacks have taken place. In March, a group of Colombians protesting the influx of Venezuelans attacked a group of refugees by dousing them in “rotten urine.” In Brazil last August, near the border with Venezuela, locals attacked tent communities of refugees sleeping on the street, burning their few belongings – including the papers that allow them to be in Brazil legally – and stoned the refugees, demanding they return home.