Together Tuesday: Venezuelans In Ibarra

Today’s Together Tuesday is a continuation from yesterday’s cultural insight podcast. If you have not heard the podcast, no worries just click on the play button below to hear it.

 

To put the events in Ibarra into context here is a segment from a local news source:

In Ibarra, an ugly night. Immigrant women and children had to receive police protection when leaving the houses where they lived, after a mob surrounded them on Sunday night. A group of people, who had participated in a march against gender violence, entered a house inhabited by foreign citizens in the center of Ibarra. They took their belongings and burned them in the street. Afterwards, the group went to a municipal shelter, where poor immigrants spend the night, and tried to enter. But the police guarded the place. The protesters roamed the streets. The climate of tension forced several immigrants to leave the city, following the femicide of Diana Carolina Ramirez by a former partner who is a foreigner.

The violent reaction against immigrants came hours after President Moreno announced in a statement that he had arranged the formation of “brigades” to control the legal status of citizens of Venezuela on the streets, in the workplace and at the border. He said the government is analyzing the possibility of creating a special permit to enter the country. Critics say Moreno’s announcement opened the door for xenophobia. Ramiro García, president of the Pichincha Bar Association, called Moreno’s announcement “inadequate.” He added: “The problem is not the victimizer’s nationality, but the machismo that made him act like that. This legitimizes xenophobia.” One of the protesters who wanted Venezuelans out of the city said “It is not xenophobia, this we do to safeguard the safety of our families.”

We spent some time on Monday in Ibarra and spoke with a fellow missionary who works with Venezuelans in that Northern city. He told of the impact the recent riots and anti-Venezuelan violence has had on the people in his ministry. Currently the streets are empty of Venezuelan faces. Most have fled Ibarra due to the violence. Last week there were roaming gangs of people “hunting” Venezuelans. Some have hidden and are afraid even to flee. Our friend has spent much of his time helping the Venezuelans he knows to escape to Peru or Colombia. He is devastated by the violence.

In response to the violence more than 3,000 students, parents and teachers marched through the streets Thursday morning to ask for more security and say “no more xenophobia.” Sebastián Maya, president of the student government, said that after the death of Diana Carolina, students took the initiative to organize. The students traveled 13 blocks through the downtown streets until they reached the city’s train station. There, they gave the new governor of Imbabura, Galo Zamora, a document requesting the government ensure the safety of all residents. The governor made a commitment to show Ibarra is a city of peace.

We saw only three people the we could identify as Venezuelan in our travels. We saw two begging for food and one we met through our friend. We did see police in riot gear and several protests.

We ask that you pray for our missionary friend. (We have chosen not to identify him for the safety of his family.) We ask that you would pray for the Venezuelans who have been caught up in this terrible situation. Finally we ask you to pray that God will lead our church leaders into practical ways that we can help.

Together we can make a difference!

With much love, 1D9AE994-DBCF-4306-B3B5-871C03069AB0The Downings

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