TEHRAN, Young Journalists Club (YJC) - The Venezuelans, some of whom said they had been sleeping on the streets and were taken advantage of by Peruvian employers, arrived hours after Maduro on national TV unveiled the "Return to the Homeland Plan" to welcome back those who marched abroad amid the spiraling economic and social crisis.
It also comes as regional governments are rushing to address the exodus straining tight budgets in almost every South American nation, with a special session Wednesday at the Organization of American States in Washington.
According to the United Nations, more than 2.3 million people, 7 percent of Venezuela's total population, have fled the country over the last three years during a period of widespread shortages, deadly anti-government protests and now hyperinflation the International Monetary Fund estimates will hit 1 million percent.
But Venezuela's government disputes those figures, and is accusing opponents led by the U.S. of sounding an alarm about a humanitarian crisis to justify a foreign military intervention to remove Maduro.
"I sometimes feel pain for the Venezuelans who left," he said on state TV Monday, saying that fewer than 600,000 Venezuelans left the country over the past two years and that 90 percent regret the decision. "We will hug you again, come to Venezuela, come back to the homeland. We Venezuelans are here, with our big, big Bolivian hearts."