Venezuela's Foreign Ministry has accused the Ecuadorian government of fomenting xenophobia in the aftermath of the murder of a pregnant woman by a Venezuelan migrant on Saturday evening.
Local residents in the city of Ibarra in the province of Imbabura, Ecuador reportedly attacked a camp of Venezuelan migrants after local media reported a horrific femicide involving the death of a young woman at the hands of her boyfriend, whose nationality was made central in their reports.
The 22-year-old woman Diana Carolina Ramirez, who was 4 months pregnant, was stabbed to death by her boyfriend after having been held hostage by him for an hour around 11 p.m. local time, leading her at knifepoint through the streets of downtown Ibarra.
The man, later identified as Yordy Rafael L. G, was later disarmed by police and arrested, but not before having stabbed the woman three times, causing her traumatic injuries resulting in her death at a local hospital. At one point, the onlooking crowd began attacking the assailant which forced police to use tear gas to disperse the crowd.
Ecuadorian authorities later admitted that police personnel did not adequately follow protocols which may have prevented the stabbing.
“There are rules to follow but the police has the obligation to act and especially when it concerns protecting a life. The femicide was committed whilst the police were there and they should have acted,” Ecuador's Interior Minister Maria Romo explained in a press conference.
The event then triggered a spontaneous late-night march among local citizens who amassed in one of the town’s central parks where some Venezuelan migrants are sometimes known to sleep and burned it to the ground along with any belongings they could find. They then chased the frightened Venezuelans through the streets of the city, many of whom needed police protection. Police were also forced to guard a local municipal shelter, when an angry mob attempted to enter, according to El Comercio.
Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno issued a statement announcing a possible crackdown on Venezuelan migration.
“We are all Diana! Ecuador is and will be a country of peace. We will not let any antisocial elements take that away from us. The integrity of our mothers, daughters, and co-workers is my priority. I've allowed for the immediate formation of a taskforce to assess the legal situation of Venezuelans on the streets, in the workplace, and on the border. We are analyzing the possibility of creating special permits to enter the country,” the Ecuadorian head of state said via Twitter.
In response, Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Rodriguez accused Moreno of inciting “fascist persecution” against Venezuelans in Ecuador.
“President @Lenin and his government have incited a fascist persecution against the Venezuelans in Ecuador. We are holding them responsible for the security and integrity of our countrymen and women. In Venezuela, hundreds of thousands of Ecuadorians live and have never been subject to discrimination,” he stated.
El Presidente @Lenin y su gobierno han incitado una persecución fascista contra l@s venezolan@s en #Ecuador. Los hacemos responsables de la seguridad e integridad de nuestr@s compatriotas. En #Venezuela viven centenares de miles de ecuatorian@s y jamás han sido discriminados.
— Jorge Arreaza M (@jaarreaza) January 21, 2019
Growing Venezuelan migration in recent years, spurred by the country’s economic downtown, has been met with a rising wave of xenophobic attacks in neighboring countries, especially in Colombia and Brazil.