This week, two human rights organisations publicly criticized Brazil’s lack of response to Venezuela’s crisis. As tens of thousands pour across the border with their neighboring country, organizations are speaking up on behalf of refugees. According to them, Brazil’s inaction is not only immoral but could also hurt the country’s reputation.
Brazil must do more, says Human Rights Watch
Yesterday José Miguel Vivanco, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Americas division, published an op-ed in Brazilian media O Globo. He praised foreign minister Aloysio Nunes’s defense of human rights in Venezuela, which had triggered visceral responses.
Nunes had spoken at the Organization of American States (OAS) conference at the end of May. Vivanco said that it was “pragmatic” for Brazil to denounce human rights violations happening in Venezuela, as Nunes did at the conference.
According to Vivanco, this allies Brazil with the region’s other democracies. In doing so, it lends itself credibility and legitimacy on the world stage. But Nunes’s speech may not be enough. Vivanco warned that a lack of action from Brazil risks the perception that the country doesn’t care. It could also imply worse: that Brazil cannot lead, or that it supports a dictatorship in Venezuela.
Vivanco says that in the near future, Brazil will have a diplomatic role regarding Venezuela in the OAS. He concluded that Brazil must ensure that Venezuela’s crisis remains a high priority on the international agenda.
Brazil’s refugee policy is failing
The Igarapé Institute, meanwhile, has voiced more severe criticisms of Brazil’s approach. According to researchers Maria Beatriz Nogueira and Maiara Folly, Brazil’s refugee policies do not address the problems its Venezuelan borders face.
Brazil’s police say that 77,000 Venezuelans crossed into Brazil between 2015 and 2016. Although there are some indigenous tribes that routinely cross this border, this is a serious increase in migration numbers. Experts believe that Venezuela’s crisis is the essential factor in this rise. Just this year, 8,231 Venezuelans claimed asylum in Brazil, while approximately 150 such asylum claims are made every day.
Igarapé criticizes Brazil’s ongoing lack of preparation. New arrivals have no provisions, and disease contraction rates are very high. Local governments in affected parts of Brazil have not offered solutions or help, fearing their own careers. Meanwhile, the country’s lack of a long-term plan for the situation could prove damaging, according to researchers.