SAO PAULO – the Inhabitants of the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima attacked Venezuelan immigrants on Saturday after a local shop owner was robbed, stabbed and beaten in an attack blamed on four migrants, authorities said.
Pacaraima, in the northern jungle state of Roraima, is an important border with Venezuela, where economic and political turmoil has driven tens of thousands on the border with Brazil in the past few years.
After a rally was held to protest against the attack on the storeowner, groups of residents wandered through the city, hurling rocks at the immigrants and the setting of the fire to their belongings.
The police said that the shopkeeper, who was beaten and robbed on Friday night, is included in the hospital and is in stable condition.
The Roraima government estimates that more than 50,000 Venezuelan refugees crossed the border, the occupy existing shelters or sleep in tents. The intake was almost equal to 10 percent of the population of 520,000 inhabitants.
The police said that in order to escape the violence, hundreds of immigrants crossed the border, back in Venezuela.
A video posted by the G1 news portal a man’s voice shouting “. Get out. Go back to Venezuela.”
Wandenberg Ribeiro Costa, one of the organizers of Saturday’s rally, told the G1 news portal, “we have driven the Venezuelans.”
Claudio Lamachia, chair of the order of Brazilian lawyers, said in a statement that the violence that took place in Pacaraima “expose of the humanitarian drama in which our neighbors … who are trying to improve their lives and survive.”
“The state of Roraima is not the conditions to shelter the immigrants,” he said, adding that in the neighborhood of 800 Venezuelans enter Roraima every day.
Milene de Souza, a volunteer at an evangelical church, told the Associated Press by phone that the situation is desperate.
“The world has to see what is happening here, where nobody knows what to do,” she said, adding that every day she helps Venezuelan engineers, doctors, lawyers and other professionals who sleep on the streets “with their diplomas tucked under their pillow.”