Ecuador Takes Hardline On Asylum-Seekers After Venezuelan Migrant Kills 4-Month Pregnant Girlfriend

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Ecuador will now be requiring migrants from Venezuela to present their criminal records when seeking to enter the country after a 22-year-old pregnant Ecuadorean woman was stabbed to death by a Venezuelan immigrant in the northern city of Ibarra late Saturday.

She was four months pregnant and the man was reportedly her boyfriend.

Vice President Otto Sonnenholzner announced the regulation on Monday, reports The Associated Press, saying that the South American country “must differentiate between Venezuelans who are fleeing Maduro's government and others who take advantage of the situation to commit crimes.”

He added as justification for the new measure that Venezuelan authorities have refused to provide Ecuador with documentation on said migrants seeking to enter the country.

According to The Guardian, Ecuadorean president Lenin Moreno has also ordered police to set up search units to check the status of Venezuelan immigrants “in the streets, in the workplace, and at the border.”

“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 tweeted Sunday. “We have opened our doors, but we will not sacrifice the security of anyone.”

He added that Quito is looking at creating a special permit for migrants to enter the country, presumably to make it more difficult for those seeking to enter either for asylum or to pass through on their way to Peru or Colombia, as many are doing.

The woman killed, 22-year-old Diana Carolina Ramirez, was confirmed by police and President Moreno as the girlfriend of the Venezuelan immigrant, who goes by the name of Yordy Rafael L. The man is currently in custody.

The horrific murder was caught on video, showing the man stab Ramirez in the chest repeatedly after holding her at knifepoint on a street for an hour and a half.

The killing set off protests throughout the country.

The Guardian reports,

In the aftermath of the murder, spates of attacks against Venezuelan people broke out, particularly in Ibarra. Videos circulating on social media show mobs of Ecuadorians harassing Venezuelans, breaking into their homes and burning their possessions. Videos from airports and bus terminals, where Venezuelans often congregate, show similar harassment.

Venezuela’s government, which has long been at diplomatic loggerheads with Ecuador and denies any crisis at home, denounced the attacks and accused Ecuador’s government of stoking xenophobia, which has been sporadically rearing its head since the start of the Venezuelan exodus three years ago.

This comes as Ecuador continues to face a migrant crisis of its own:

AP reports, “The United Nations estimates at least 221,000 Venezuelans are now residing in this small South American nation, which has also become a point of transit for hundreds of thousands of Venezuelan migrants who are trying to reach Peru. An estimated 2.3 million Venezuelans have fled their nation's economic and humanitarian crisis since 2015 in one of the world's largest mass migrations on the planet today. They are arriving predominantly in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador, where tensions have risen over the sudden influx of a high-needs population.”

Based on accounts by Ecuadorian natives, many have come in without papers and use fake names, only to commit crimes and return home thereafter.

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