Hungry Venezuelans flood Brazilian towns, as threat of mass migration looms


By Marina Lopes and Nick Miroff January 1
PACARAIMA, Brazil — Rosibel Diaz used to affectionately call her 4-year-old son “my chubby boy.” She couldn’t stand it when he started going hungry.

So in November, Diaz packed up her family’s possessions and boarded a bus with the boy and her 11-month-old daughter to escape Venezuela’s famished interior. She now lives under a blue tarp in a trash-strewn alleyway of this Brazilian border village, where she begs for food.

“I won’t go back,” said the rail-thin mother, who lost her job as a home nursing aide four years ago. She leaned against a pole, feeding a piece of bread to the baby. “We are surviving here,” she said.

Survival for Venezuelans such as Diaz is becoming a matter of flight. About 10,000 Venezuelans are streaming into Brazil every month in search of food and medicine, authorities say, camping out on the streets and swamping government services in Amazon frontier towns ill-prepared to receive them.

Oil-rich Venezuela has been an immigrant destination for much of its history. Now it is a place to flee. Chronic food shortages, rampant violence and the erratic and often paranoid behavior of President Nicolás Maduro have turned the country’s border crossings and beaches into escape valves.

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