Brazil's Bolsonaro Considers Refugee Camps for Venezuelans

(Bloomberg) -- Brazil’s President-elect Jair Bolsonaro is considering creating refugee camps for the thousands of immigrants streaming across the border from Venezuela.

“We can’t leave them to their own luck, or leave the government of Roraima in this situation,” Bolsonaro said at an Army event in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday, according to local media. “The Venezuelan people are not merchandise or goods to be handed back.”

More than 2 million Venezuelans are now living outside their stricken country, wracked by a deep economic depression that saw the nation’s economy shrink in 2017 by almost 17 percent. About 1.6 million Venezuelans have fled since 2015, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.

About 70,000 of those have entered Brazil, almost all via the border state of Roraima, the country’s northernmost and least populous. Bolsonaro, who was elected in October, criticized Brazil’s previous left-wing Workers Party governments for offering support to Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro. “Venezuela cannot be treated as a democratic country,” he said, according to reports.

In other comments, Bolsonaro said that he intended to analyze Brazil’s social programs carefully to make sure that those able to work are no longer dependent on the state. “Social projects have to get people out of poverty and not keep them in a regime of dependency,” he said, according to the news website G1.

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