By Richard Mann, Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The mayor of Pacaraima, Juliano Torquato, said this week in the Senate that the municipality is on the verge of social collapse with the growing number of Venezuelans arriving and settling in the city.

Torquato attended a meeting of the Temporary Subcommittee established to address the crisis in Venezuela, as well as its consequences for Brazil.

Torquato stated he has tried to solve the problem on Brazil’s border with Venezuela “in all ways possible. But unfortunately, the time has come where I ask for your help. I can’t do it anymore. We are about to suffer a social collapse, as well as in education and health,” said the mayor.

Venezuela has been going through a severe economic recession for several months. Hit by hyperinflation, the country is experiencing increasingly severe shortages, unemployment and a lack of social and political prospects.

Thousands of Venezuelans have fled the country in search of job opportunities in neighboring countries, Brazil among them. As a result, the city of Pacaraima, on the border with Venezuela, is the gateway and frequently the final destination of refugees.

Torquato explained that the municipality had received a much larger number of students than the public school system can bear.

“In 2017, there were 1,743 students; in 2018 the figure increased to 2,072 and, this year, there are 2,772 students, an increase of 35 percent with the same income from Fundeb (Primary and Secondary Education Maintenance and Development Fund), without increasing one Real, and of those 2,700 students, 903 are Venezuelans.”

The mayor said the municipality has suffered from “thefts, robberies, assaults, homicides, and kidnappings.

He also mentioned an increase in the number of guns and drug-related problems within Pacaraima. According to him, the broad border strip enables the entering of people without prior verification of their criminal history.

The state deputy Jeferson Alves (PTB) called for the resources of the Union intended for the state to be managed by the local government.

As far as he’s concerned, the state is alone. “I find it absurd to leave the state of Roraima alone in this situation, given that we bear a greater responsibility for education, safety, and health.”

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