Pastor Leads Mob of Hundreds in Attack on Venezuelan Refugees in Brazil

Venezuelan refugees rest inside a temporary shelter in the city of Pacaraima in Brazil
AFP / Mauro Pimentel

Brazilians living in the border state of Roraima violently protested against the recent influx of Venezuelan refugees fleeing their country this week by attacking and robbing them.

According to local media outlet G1, around 300 residents of the town of Mucajaí in southern Roraima expelled Venezuelans from an abandoned building in an act of protest following the death of 49-year-old Eulis Marinho de Souza, who was allegedly murdered by three Venezuelan migrants.

The mob reportedly stormed an abandoned school where the migrants were sheltering before setting fire to their possessions and driving the group out of the building. Meanwhile, some belongings such as baskets of food and suitcases of clothes were left behind, while villagers ripped packages of wheat flour and scattered it across the floor.

“We cannot stand their presence anymore, we want the authorities to do something, there are a lot of robberies and thefts in our city,” said local pastor John Batista, who helped organize the protest.

However, some residents condemned the aggression, viewing it as an unnecessary attack on mostly innocent Venezuelans.

“I am against this kind of attitude. The death case has not been clarified yet and although a Venezuelan has been wrong, not all of them should pay for the act of one,” taxi driver and local resident José Dias Mucajaí told the outlet.

Thousands of Venezuelans are fleeing the dire situation in their home country to neighboring countries such as Colombia and Brazil, sparking tensions among local residents over the growing number of unemployed people living in the streets, as well as concern over rising crime rates.

The monthly minimum wage in Venezuela has collapsed to under two dollars a month while millions of people are starving and without basic living necessities under the socialist regime of Nicolás Maduro.

“I’m working here, I’m not a criminal, it’s very sad, we can not afford the mistake of other times, there are good people coming to Brazil,” said 18-year-old Venezuelan João Marinho.

In the Colombian border town of Cúcuta, local residents also held an anti-migration protest that led to the eviction of over 200 Venezuelans living in a sports field. An estimated 550,000 Venezuelans have emigrated to Colombia in the past two to three years, with officials promising to meet the challenge by providing sufficient education and humanitarian support.

Last month, Brazilian authorities announced that they would relocate thousands of Venezuelans in a bid to ease the pressure on the country’s border towns, although thousands of people continue to arrive in what is becoming one of the world’s most pressing migration crises.

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