Both Colombia and Brazil have beefed up security on their borders with Venezuela as thousands of people seek to flee the failed socialist state every day.
On a visit to the border town of Cúcuta, Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced stricter border controls by suspending the daily entry card system and deploying 3,000 additional security personnel along the frontier.
Santos also pledged that Colombia would crack down on the growing numbers of Venezuelans committing crimes and reiterated that his government had spent millions of dollars on the migrants.
“I want to repeat to President Maduro—this is the result of your policies, it is not the fault of Colombians and it’s the result of your refusal to receive humanitarian aid which has been offered in every way, not just from Colombia but from the international community,” Santos said.
“The problem of the Venezuelan migrants has been growing. It’s a complex problem; a problem that we are not used to,” he continued.
Colombia has previously pledged to have “adopted a policy of open arms” towards the fleeing Venezuelans by offering them extensive rights, but have also called for international aid as the cost of managing the crisis continues to rise.
Brazilian Defense Minister Raul Jungmann visited the northern town of Boa Vista on Thursday, whose stable population of 300,000 has seen 40,000 Venezuelans arrive in the past two years.
Jungmann also announced the tightening of border security through the deployment of more troops and relocating Venezuelans in densely populated areas.
The mayor of Boa Vista, Teresa Surita, has also said the city is “collapsing” due to the growing demand for housing, health, and education coming from Venezuelans. As a result, resentment is starting to boil over from locals who have begun organizing protests and in some cases using violence against migrant communities.
Many of the migrants are also victims of human trafficking, working for little or no salary while growing numbers of young girls have turned to prostitution to sustain themselves.
Most Venezuelans have fled because of the deepening humanitarian, economic, and political crisis in their country, where the monthly minimum wage has collapsed to under one dollar a month while millions of people are starving and without basic living necessities under the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro.
The situation is also only likely to worsen with the upcoming presidential election in April, which Maduro is widely expected to steal through a process of voter fraud and banning the main opposition parties from running.