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SAO PAULO (AP) — Brazilian President Michel Temer said Thursday that it would be “unthinkable” to close his country’s border to Venezuelans fleeing political and economic turmoil.

Temer caused concern on Wednesday when he said in a radio interview that authorities were considering using chits to limit the number of Venezuelans entering the country. His office later issued a statement saying the chits would only be used to help Brazilian authorities better respond to the needs of Venezuelans. Tens of thousands have arrived in Brazil, and many are hungry or sick.

Temer reminded reporters on Thursday that his government has pushed to keep the border open as the state where most Venezuelans are arriving has tried to shut it.

He implied his remarks were misinterpreted — possibly deliberately. He said closing the border is “unthinkable, non-negotiable.”

Brazil’s president also said that the military intervention decreed six months ago in Rio de Janeiro has been a big success.

The intervention was decreed in mid-February amid a spike in violence. It put thousands of soldiers in the streets and increased public security operations against drug-trafficking gangs that largely operate in poor areas. But some say it has not helped to address underlying issues like unemployment and income inequality.

Temer spoke to reporters at the end of a meeting held to evaluate the intervention scheduled to end in late December.

He said the government was satisfied with the intervention because “arrests have grown exponentially and the seizures of cocaine and marijuana have increased substantially.”