An angry Brazilian mob has lynched a Venezuelan immigrant who had been accused of murdering a local man.
Witnesses told the Brazilian military police that Jose Gonzalez, 19, and two other Venezuelan immigrants had been seen stealing from a supermarket on Thursday by Manoel de Sousa, 35, who took justice into his own hands in Boa Vista, Roraima, according to G1.
A group of Brazilians raced after the trio with de Sousa trailing behind on his bicycle. Once he caught up to them, Gonzalez approached and attacked him.
De Sousa, who worked as a painter and was a friend of the supermarket’s owner, was reportedly stabbed in the neck by the Venezuelan immigrant.
De Sousa was still alive when the villagers came to his aid and was taken to a hospital where he later died.
The angry group revenged the Brazilian local’s death by beating Gonzalez and leaving his corpse near his makeshift home in the slum of Jardim Floresta, where scores of tents and tarps supported by wooden sticks are lined up outside a Catholic church.
Numerous other Venezuelan refugees have been camping out there since arriving in Boa Vista.
According to an unidentified friend of Gonzalez, he had emigrated from the state of Anzoategui a year ago and found employment doing yard work.
Josmel Bolivar, one of thousands of Venezuelans who’ve crossed the border into Brazil, told Univision that locals have been terrified by the migrant crisis.
‘Brazilians view us right now with a bit of xenophobia,’ Bolivar said. ‘They’re a bit frightened when they see us because of the amount [of people]that have emigrated here from Venezuela.’
The Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (IBGE), in August, tallied 38,000 Venezuelans living in Brazil. There were only 1,000 in 2015. In 2017 alone, 17,000 migrants fled President Nicolas Maduro’s government to Brazil. Over the first eight months of 2018, 10,000 have crossed over into the country.
According to the IBGE, 99 per cent of the Venezuelans immigrants have settled in the Roraima cities of Boa Vista and Pacaraima. It’s expected that another 9,700 will arrived before the year is over.
Thursday’s violent clash wasn’t the first pitting Venezuelan immigrants and Brazilian locals.
An August 19 standoff forced 1,200 Venezuelans to return back to their country after residents in Pacaraima attacked four Venezuelans immigrants blamed for the robbery, stabbing and beating of Raimundo Nonato de Oliveira, a 55-year-old store owner. He survived and was later released from a hospital.
Brazilian President Michel Temer, who has been critical of Maduro, has since placed armed forces to keep order at the Venezuelan border as thousands continue to flee the South American country amid economic collapse and food shortages.
Last Tuesday, a group of Latin American nations called for increased aid to assist thousands of Venezuelan immigrants fleeing the economic collapse of their homeland.
The declaration, signed by officials from Argentina, Brazil, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Colombia, Chile, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay, followed a two-day meeting of technical teams focused on the issue.
According to the United Nations, more than 1.6 million Venezuelans have left their homeland since 2015 to escape severe shortages of food and medicine, and inflation that the International Monetary Fund estimates will reach 1 million per cent this year.