The Ecuadorian government has helped some 250 economic migrants from Venezuela reach Peru before the government in Lima tightens entry requirements for the Venezuelans fleeing an economic crisis in their home country.
The Venezuelan migrants had illegally entered Ecuador from Colombia. Nevertheless, Ecuadorean authorities on Wednesday sent buses to transport the migrants from Ecuador’s northern border with Colombia to the Huaquillas coastal crossing with Peru.
Some 423,000 Venezuelans have entered Ecuador through the Rumichaca border with Colombia so far this year, many planning to continue their way southward in search of work in Peru.
Amid the flow of Venezuelan migrants, Ecuador last week put in place rules requiring the Venezuelans to show passports on entry, rather than just national identity cards, as formerly required to. Peru also followed suit and will start doing the same as of Saturday.
Ecuadorian officials have said the decision to transport the Venezuelans was taken on “humanitarian” grounds, but it also removes a burden on Quito by getting potentially large numbers of foreign migrants off Ecuadorian territory.
The governor of Ecuador’s northern Pichincha Province said more transfers would be organized for Venezuelans in the coming days.
“The Venezuelans have taken the decision to head for Peru; and in Ecuador, we must guarantee their rights. It’s a humanitarian crisis,” the governor told a local radio station.
Peruvian authorities estimate that more than 20,000 Venezuelans could arrive in the Andean country before the Saturday deadline. Official reports indicate that over 400,000 Venezuelans have entered Peru in the last two years.
About 2.3 million Venezuelans have left their home country since 2015 — more than 500,000 only this year — mostly for Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, in search of a better life.
Venezuela faces an acute economic and political crisis.
About 90 percent of Venezuelans now live in poverty. More than 60 percent of people interviewed in a survey conducted by three universities earlier this year admitted to waking up hungry over the past three months because they lacked the means to buy food.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has announced that inflation in Venezuela could top 1 million percent by yearend.
There have been periodic waves of protests against the socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro. Rallies have also been held in his support.
But Caracas has been struggling to contain the crisis.
On Monday, the government announced that it was dropping five zeros from its new banknotes.
The Maduro government has blamed the United States and its sanctions for the economic hardships. The opposition has blamed government mismanagement.
An “assassination” attempt against Maduro earlier this month has also further polarized the political atmosphere in the country.
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