Venezuela chides Peru for ‘xenophobia’ against migrants – Reuters

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CARACAS (Reuters) – Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro鈥檚 government accused Peruvian authorities on Sunday of fomenting 鈥渪enophobia鈥 against the large Venezuelan exile population after a series of incidents of apparent mistreatment of migrants.

FILE PHOTO: Venezuela’s Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza speaks as he attends a news conference in Caracas, Venezuela August 6, 2019. REUTERS/Manaure Quintero

Venezuela鈥檚 economic crisis under the leftist Maduro has sent several million people fleeing abroad in recent years, with more than 850,000 ending up in Peru.

The initially welcoming attitude to Venezuelans around South America has soured amid accusations they bring crime, crowd the job market, and strain social services.

The mood appears to be particularly ugly in Peru, where videos circulating on social media in recent days appear to show a young Venezuelan woman being beaten in the street at night, a street-seller complaining of harassment by police, and pamphlets demanding the migrants鈥 exit.

鈥淭hese are shameful and inhuman acts, permitted or committed by Peruvian government authorities and encouraged by hate campaigns against Venezuelans,鈥 Maduro鈥檚 government said in a statement issued by Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza.

鈥淰enezuela denounces the Peruvian government for violating and neglecting its international responsibilities by promoting and allowing acts of segregation and xenophobia,鈥 it added, saying various 鈥渞acist鈥 governments in the region were working with Venezuela鈥檚 opposition.

Along with dozens of other nations around the world, Peru has recognized Venezuelan congress head and opposition leader Juan Guaido as interim president and denounced Maduro as a usurper after an election last year critics say was rigged.

鈥淧eru strongly rejects the unfounded accusations of xenophobia made by the illegitimate and dictatorial regime of Nicolas Maduro,鈥 its Foreign Ministry said in a statement responding to the salvo from Caracas.

Peru accused Maduro of driving Venezuelans out of their homeland due to rights abuses, and said it had shown solidarity in welcoming so many people fleeing 鈥渋nhuman conditions.鈥

On Saturday, Guaido told reporters during a visit to a poor Caracas suburb that it was important not to over-generalize about xenophobia by Peruvians or crime by Venezuelans.

鈥淲e know that Peru has supported Venezuela鈥檚 struggle, but also we should take urgent, corrective measures to avoid attacks on Venezuelan citizens,鈥 he added in a tweet on Sunday.

Reporting by Vivian Sequera; Additional reporting by Maria Cervantes in Lima; Writing by Andrew Cawthorne

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