The Brazilian government is blocking the overland entry of anyone from Venezuela, even those with family members in Brazil, saying it is a health decision by the National Health Surveillance Agency . Anvisa however indicated that she had never advised the Ministry of Justice to prohibit the entry of people from Venezuelan territory, due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The ordinance currently in force, 652 of January 25, 2021, determines that it is forbidden for foreigners of all nationalities to enter Brazil by land, but there are several exceptions: immigrants with permanent residence in the country, those who have a spouse, a Brazilian partner, son or father, and holders of the National Migration Register (former RNE).
The exceptions apply to all nationalities, with the exception of people coming from Venezuela, who cannot enter Brazil by land under any circumstances. The Ministry of Justice was questioned in a letter sent by the NGO Conectas Human Rights on discrimination against Venezuelans and confronted with a technical opinion from the USP stressing that there was no health base. to prevent people from leaving the country.
In response, the ministry said the restriction was based on “Anvisa’s technical and reasoned recommendation”. Still according to a letter, signed by the general coordinator of the immigration police, André Furquim, “for the purposes of border control, what counts and prevails is Anvisa’s technical note”.
However, when questioned by Conectas, Anvisa said that “the restrictions imposed on foreigners from the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela are not included in any of the documents presented by Anvisa to subsidize the decision-making of the referred committee.”
Still according to Anvisa’s response, “in the technical notes published by the Coordination of epidemiological surveillance in ports, airports, borders and customs bodies (COVIG / GGPAF / Anvisa), there is no recommendation to separate the countries border “.
“The government is using the pandemic as an excuse to arrest Venezuelans,” says Camila Asano, program director at Conectas.
According to her, the discrimination against Venezuelans adds to a series of government measures that suppress migrants’ rights, such as Ordinance 666 of 2019, which provided for the possibility of summary deportation, and Conare’s understanding (National Committee for refugees, attached to the Ministry of Justice) that he could reject asylum requests without even questioning the applicant.
He also underlines the fact that the government arbitrarily allowed entry by land via Paraguay, without any health base.
The government has issued several orders to the same effect since March 2020, when the pandemic began, all restricting entry by land. From July, tourists arriving by plane can enter. Entry by land is only permitted through the border with Paraguay.
Asked by Folha, the Justice Ministry said the speaker was the Civil House. The report called on Civil House, but the wallet did not respond to emails, phone calls and messages via WhatsApp.
According to federal police data, there has been a significant reduction in the number of Venezuelans entering the country – largely due to restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2018, 227,437 Venezuelans entered the country and in 2019, 236,410.
Last year, 47,682 Venezuelans entered Brazil by land and air.
According to Father Paolo Parise, one of the coordinators of Mission Paz, an organization that deals with refugees, very few Venezuelans have reached the mission, even though the situation in Venezuela is very difficult.
“In practice, Venezuelans are prohibited from seeking refuge and entering Brazil,” explains Parise. Indeed, the ordinance stipulates that any foreigner who enters the country irregularly is “disabled” to seek refuge. The vast majority of Venezuelans have few resources and can only enter Brazil by land and not by air, as the ordinance allows.
They end up entering irregularly and therefore cannot seek refuge. “Shutting down Venezuelans is a political decision, it is obvious that they are trying to stop the flow of Venezuelan refugees entering the country,” Parise said. “Nowadays tourists who come by plane can enter, who also come from Paraguay’s land border, but Venezuelans in very vulnerable situations are prevented.”
According to João Chaves, coordinator of the national working group of the Office of the Public Defender of the Union for Migration, many Venezuelans enter irregularly and go to the federal police to try to regularize their situation. According to him, these people end up leaving with a note determining the compulsory departure from the country in 60 days, under penalty of expulsion, and the payment of a fine of R $ 100 per day, up to a maximum of R $ 10,000. .
The DPU has already argued with the Ministry of Justice that conditions are very drastic with vulnerable populations in Venezuela, but to no avail.
“There is a constant flow of Venezuelans to the Roraima border, many were working in Brazil and now they cannot bring their children, others were undergoing medical treatment in Boa Vista and cannot meet with the family,” Chaves says. . The problem of the disqualification of asylum seekers for people who enter irregularly also affects Cubans and Haitians, vulnerable populations who enter by land.
In December 2019, the Brazilian government determined that there was a situation of serious and widespread human rights violations in Venezuela. As a result, the granting of refuge to Venezuelans has been accelerated and it is no longer necessary to question the applicant. Typically, the asylum assessment process takes up to three years.
According to Conare’s information, there were 25,734 refugee concessions for Venezuelans (who were already on Brazilian territory) in 2020 and 20,709 in 2019.