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  • Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza

    Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza | Photo: @CancilleriaVE

Published 21 January 2019

Racist attacks have forced many Venezuelan families to flee from Ibarra, Ecuador, carrying just their bags and small children in the hands.

Venezuela's Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza announced measures on Monday reacting to the xenophobic actions taken against Venezuelan migrants by the Ecuadorean government, as Venezuelan citizens living in Ecuador have become victims of aggression and persecution on the early hours of Sunday morning. Some have been injured and their property stolen.

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Reading a communique, Arreaza condemned the reported violence as a "generalized and systematic attack" against Venezuelan citizens living in Ecuador, expressing condolences to the victim's relatives.

The Bolivarian government also asked Ecuador's President to fulfill his duties, including the guarantee of security for immigrants living in the country. He condemned President Lenin Moreno's decision to create "special brigades that would control the legal situation of Venezuelan migrants," considering it as a "model of human rights violations."

The Venezuelan government also did not discard the possibility of resorting to the appropriate international organizations "in order to determine the responsibilities that correspond to international law."

The attacks were unleashed after President Lenin Moreno announced measures against Venezuelans, including "the immediate formation of task forces to control the situation of Venezuelan migrants on the streets, in workplaces and on the border." Moreno issued the statement after the murder of the 22-year-old Ecuadorian girl, Diana Carolina Rodríguez Reyes, whose partner, a Venezuelan man, stabbed her in the street in Ibarra, after holding her hostage for more than 90 minutes.

The woman was pregnant and had two children.

After the murder of Rodriguez and the statement by Moreno, Ecuadoreans in Ibarra decided to carry out a "social cleansing" and began the persecution of Venezuelans living in that city, including children, seniors and women. The Ecuadorians who participated in the violent actions broke doors of hostels and houses where Venezuelans lived and forced them to evict.

Around 8:30 pm (local time), a group of people entered a house inhabited by Venezuelans in the center of Ibarra, took their belongings and burned them in the street. Later, the group tried to enter a municipal shelter, where Venezuelan immigrants sleep, but the police stopped the attack.

The Ecuadoreans then walked the streets and began to chase Venezuelans in vehicles, honking their horns and shouting for them to leave. The Ecuadorian deputy, Carlos Valero, published via social networks the moment in which a man was being attacked.

The attacks have forced many Venezuelan families to flee from Ibarra, carrying just their bags and small children in the hands. The attacks based on nationality continued all the way to the central bus station where migrants looked sought tickets to unknown destinations. 

Different sectors of Ecuadorean society have spoken out against the violence directed at Venezuelans and rejected the statements of President Lenin Moreno, for inciting xenophobia.

Former President Rafael Correa urged people to stop the violence against Venezuelans and blamed Moreno's government for the barbarity unleashed in the streets.

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