Venezuela has expressed concern over an outbreak of violence in the Brazilian border town of Pacaraima, which forced hundreds of Venezuelan immigrants to flee back to their homeland.
Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza released a statement Saturday condemning the “dangerous matrix of xenophobic opinions.”
“We are concerned at the massive eviction of our nationals, a fact that violates International Law norms in addition to violating their human rights,” the statement reads.
The Venezuelan government has contacted Brazil’s Foreign Ministry “to request the corresponding guarantees to Venezuelan nationals and take the measures of protection and security of their families and belongings,” Arreaza continued.
Venezuela has also ordered diplomatic staff from its embassy in Brazil to investigate the incident and confirm the status of the affected Venezuelan nationals.
The riots began Saturday after a local restaurant owner was beaten and stabbed, Roraima State Security Secretary Giuliana Castro told Reuters by phone from Brazil.
Four Venezuelans allegedly entered the victim’s home and tied him up before beating, stabbing and robbing him of almost US$6,000.
In response, local residents rose up to demonstrate against Venezuelan immigrants, burning their hastily discarded belongings as they fled back across the border.
“Out! Out! Out! Go back to Venezuela,” protesters shouted at the Venezuelans as they rushed passed the border post, according to footage distributed by the Roraima government.
Brazilian army soldiers stationed at Pacaraima to help maintain order asked Venezuelan immigrants to return across the border for their own safety, Castro said.