Ecuador’s President Lenin Moreno announced Sunday on Twitter that his country would establish new units to monitor Venezuelan immigrants’ legal statuses and would consider clamping down on entry requirements following the gruesome death in the northern city of Ibarra, the first reported murder carried out by a Venezuelan immigrant in Ecuador since thousands have settled there as the Venezuelan economic meltdown stretches into its fourth year.
“I have ordered the immediate setting up of units to control Venezuelan immigrants’ legal status in the streets, in the workplace, and at the border,” Moreno wrote, adding that he was considering a new “special permit” for Venezuelans to enter the country.
A Venezuelan man held his victim hostage on a bustling street for around an hour last Saturday night before stabbing her to death, investigators said. Although police arrested the alleged perpetrator, Ecuador’s Interior Minister María Paula Romo said she had fired Ibarra’s police chief for not stopping the murder during the standoff.
Until now, Ecuador has maintained fairly open borders for those fleeing severe food and medical shortages in what was once Latin America’s most prosperous oil-rich country, taking in around 1.3 million – although most continue the trek onwards to Peru.
Almost 4 million have escaped into neighboring nations since 2015, creating a mass migration crisis and crippling monetary problems for the region.
Last year, Ecuador’s government announced it was tightening entry requirements to mandate that all Venezuelans entering must present a passport, but the amendment was stopped by a judge.