Venezuelans rush to border as Peru tightens immigration rules

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By Alfie Tobutt
Venezuelans rush to border as Peru tightens immigration rules
Copyright  REUTERS/Guadalupe Pardo

Thousands of Venezuelans rushed to Peru's northern border on Friday, in an attempt to enter the country before it imposed tougher immigration regulations.

Previously, Venezuelan citizens only required an identification card, but, since Saturday morning, they must possess valid visas and passports.

On Thursday, 5,849 Venezuelans crossed the border in the town of Tumbes, according to Peruvian immigration officials.

Peru is one of South America's most welcoming countries to migrants but has seen an unprecedented surge in immigration.

In 2017, the country introduced new migratory laws and gave out special residency cards to accommodate Venezuelans.

It would mean they could work, go to school and access healthcare.

But, Peru cut the programme early, amid fear that they are driving down wages and fuelling crime.

Rosamaura, 25, reached Tumbes after travelling for a week from Maracaibo with her two children.

She said the journey was "awful" and feared that her five-year-old daughter would not be allowed into Peru because she does not have a passport.

She hopes to make it to Chile, where most of her family lives.

On Thursday, President Martin Vizcarra defended his government's new immigration regulations.

He said: “Our country has opened its arms to more than 800,000 Venezuelans. I think it’s completely logical and justified to ask them to bring visas to ensure better control of who enters."

Venezuela currently faces the biggest migratory crisis in recent Latin American history, after its economy collapsed under current president Nicolas Maduro.

Four million people have fled the country since 2015, and around 800,000 of them now live in Peru, which has the second-largest Venezuelan migrant population, behind Colombia.