AMERICA/BRAZIL - Threats to those assisting Venezuelan immigrants, while the border reopens

Wednesday, 8 August 2018 immigrants   human rights   solidarity   civil society   humanitarian aid  


Boa Vista (Agenzia Fides) - From death threats to members of the Jesuit Refugees and Migrants Service (SJMR), and to media attacks against members of the Catholic community, the Church responds with "a refusal to any incitement to violence and intolerance". As Fides learns, in recent days many messages of xenophobia and hatred have spread, with a virtual lynching to a lawyer of the SJMR and to a religious. The communiqué of the diocese of Roraima, co-signed by other ecclesial bodies, illustrates the facts: "In recent days a video has been released in social media in which a collaborator of our services informs a group of Venezuelan migrant families about the deportation proceedings from a building or land occupied. These families were living peacefully in an abandoned house", on the outskirts of the state capital, Boa Vista, "and had received information indicating the obligation to leave". "In Brazil, the action of the State is regulated by a series of formal procedures to safeguard the rights of people, and especially in situations of social vulnerability", the letter continues, "and this is what the collaborator was explaining".
However, "people in bad faith have recently released" the video, which reads: "NGOs supported by the PT" (the Workers' Party of Lula da Silva and Dilma Rousseff) "are teaching Venezuelan immigrants to invade the homes of Brazilians". The local Church points out that "it is about political manipulation". Brazil is entering the electoral campaign, and there are repeated attacks on the Church and immigrants. The channel that released the video belongs to a political candidate of the Patriotic Party, which supports the candidacy to president of the Republic of Jair Bolsonaro.
At a press conference, the diocese of Roraima explained the incident to the public. Another 37 institutions signed the communiqué while the Brazilian Bishops' Conference expressed "solidarity and support for all Church actions aimed at guaranteeing a worthy life for refugees and migrants". The diocese appeals to the society of the State of Roraima, "composed of immigrants from many different places, a mosaic of different cultures and stories, to affirm that we are a welcoming and open society". And asks for "a responsible and mature use of social media, so that they are a vehicle for unity and solidarity and do not serve to support xenophobic and violent positions and discourses".
In the meantime, this Tuesday the Federal Court of Second Instance of Roraima annulled the provision of Judge Helder Girão Barreto, which had led to the temporary closing of the border from where Venezuelans were entering the state of Roraima until there is a "balance between the number" of immigrants coming into the state and the number of people heading towards other cities. For the court, "closing the border means not recognizing the Venezuelan immigrant as equal to a Brazilian citizen". (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 8/8/2018)