Brazil suggests limiting Venezuelan

entries, then backs off

SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Michel Temer said Wednesday that authorities were considering significantly reducing the number of Venezuelans entering Brazil each day but backtracked hours later — a sign of how fraught the issue has become as thousands flee political and economic turmoil in the neighboring country.

Between 700 to 800 Venezuelans are entering Brazil each day, and Temer said in a radio interview that authorities were discussing issuing chits to arriving Venezuelans to limit the number of entries and help better respond to the needs of those who do enter.

Officials “are thinking about providing, who knows, chits in order that 100, 150, I don’t know 200 enter each day,” he told Radio Jornal. “Each day, a set number will enter to organize better these entries.”

But in a statement later in the day, Temer’s office said handing out the chits would only be to improve the government’s ability to help the migrants and was not meant as a way of “closing off the entry of Venezuelans to Brazil.” The statement did not reference the lower daily figures that Temer gave during the interview, but his office said the government’s position is that entries would not be limited.

Merkel arrives for West Africa

visit on business, migrants

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Senegal late Wednesday on a three-nation West African visit focusing on economic development and migration.

Merkel is meeting with the presidents of Senegal, Ghana and then Nigeria as she presses for further investment in a region that is a source of many of the migrants who make their perilous way toward Europe.

Migrant arrivals in Europe across the Mediterranean from Africa and Turkey are at their lowest level in five years, but the issue remains sensitive. Merkel, who refused to close Germany’s borders at the height of the migrant crisis in 2015, has toughened her stance recently to salvage her government from a rift over the issue.

Some in Europe hope that investing more in West Africa will help keep people in a region plagued with unemployment, dodgy infrastructure, rising extremism and now the effects of climate change from leaving.

“We must not be accomplices of the people smugglers. We must fight illegality but also create legality and conditions for work here on the ground,” Merkel said after meeting with Senegalese President Macky Sall, according to her spokesman Steffen Seibert. Germany announced it would electrify 300 Senegalese villages.