Brazil’s Association of Doctors has yesterday, 15th of March, 2020, made formal petition to President Jair Bolsonaro to close the Guyana/Brazil border at Lethem as well as the Venezuela/Brazil border at the city of Pacaraima in the state of Roraima.
The petition was made after a report was received from the president of the Brazilian Association of Doctors of the State of Roraima, Nympha Carmen Akel Thomáz Salomão. The report detailed a worrying situation of Venezuelans fleeing to Brazil to seek medical care as well as a better life due to poor sanitation and shortages of medicine in Venezuela. According to the report, this situation has undermined and overloaded the healthcare systems in the state of Roraima as well as jeopardized the lives of Brazilians.
Complicating the matter further is the rapidly spreading coronavirus which was confirmed in both Guyana and Venezuela. On average, about 500 to 700 Venezuelans flee Venezuela into Brazil every day via the Pacairama border.
If the Guyana/Brazil border at Lethem is closed, it will result in food and supplies shortages for the residents of the Rupununi as well as huge economic slowdown – which has already started to happen. About 75% of food and consumer goods come to the Rupununi from the neighboring city of Boa Vista which is just about 2 hours’ drive from Lethem.
A closure of the Brazil/Guyana border will also serve a great inconvenience to many residents who live from time to time in both Guyana and Brazil as well as the many residents of Bonfim, Brazil who work in Lethem.