Peru will make it harder for Venezuelans to cross its border, starting next week, as a massive influx of migrants fuels social tensions in the Andean country.
Starting June 15, migrants will need to apply for a humanitarian visa at Peruvian consulates before they travel, President Martín Vizcarra said. Currently they are able to apply for a humanitarian visa at the border.
More than 700,000 Venezuelan migrants entered Peru since 2017, putting public services under pressure and increasing competition for jobs.
Vizcarra said security was also a reason for tougher entry requirements.
“We open our arms as Peru has always done, but now we have to be, we’re going to be rigorous in the control of people who enter,” the president said. “We want to ensure an orderly and secure migration.”
More than three million Venezuelans have fled their homeland to escape hunger, political repression and dysfunction under President Nicolás Maduro. Unable to afford bus or air tickets, many leave the country on foot and some walk thousands of miles south down to continent to Chile and Argentina.
With the exodus intensifying, ministers from 11 Latin American nations including Peru issued a statement Thursday calling for increased international aid as regional governments contend with one of the world’s most serious humanitarian crises.
Vizcarra was speaking from the country’s main airport in Lima after overseeing the expulsion of 52 Venezuelans who the government says used false documents to enter the country to hide their criminal records. He added that his government will continue to support regional efforts to restore democracy in Venezuela and bring an end the country’s crisis.
The governor of Arequipa, the most populous region in southern Peru, called for immigration curbs last week after two Venezuelans were implicated in the killing of a local couple.
Ecuador toughened entry requirements this year after a case of a Venezuelan killing his former girlfriend. Chile also introduced new rules last year stipulating Venezuelans need visas before traveling.
Peru’s Foreign Ministry said in an emailed statement migrants will be able to apply for humanitarian visas at its two consulates Venezuelan, as well as offices in Ecuador and Colombia.