Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Venezuelan economic crisis tears families as they flee into Colombia

Venezuelans are escaping the oil-rich, cash-poor nation as President Maduro plunges the country into further economic crisis.

Crowds of families sit with their cases and bags underneath the trees on the border with Colombia and Venezuela.

Margarita left her four children behind in Caracas to earn money in Venezuela

One woman with tears streaming down her face tells Sky News how she has been forced to leave her four children behind in the capital Caracas.

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The Venezuelan economic and social disintegration has torn families apart.

Thousands of people have been streaming across the Venezuela-Colombia border

Like thousands and thousands of other Venezuelans, Margarita has taken to the road to trek over to neighbouring Colombia in order to survive.

“There is nothing in Venezuela,” she says, sobbing.

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“We have to do this to get money to live, to give my children a future.”

Some Venezuelans, mainly with children, head straight to the medical tent when they reach Colombia

So far though, like the others she is with, they have spent a comparative fortune paying smugglers to get them across the border without official documents.

Some Venezuelans cross into Colombia to buy supplies

They handed over the equivalent of more than two years salary in Venezuela to make the ten-day journey from her home near Caracas to the Colombian border.

Now she has been sitting on the pavement in Cucuta, a town on the Colombian side of the border, for the past eight days because she has no money for transport elsewhere.

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Other women have been selling their hair in return for the bus ticket money.

When we try to question the Colombians doing the snipping, there is a resistance to being filmed, perhaps a little shame at exploiting their desperate neighbours.

The Simon Bolivar bridge in Cucuta is bustling and busy with tens of thousands of people crossing over from Venezuela daily.

There is an estimated daily average of 45,000 people who are using it to cross into Colombia.

There are lines of immigration officials checking paperwork as they arrive.

A length of Venezuelan hair can earn a woman 222,000 Colombian pesos ($75)

Many just want to source supplies and take them back over to relatives or for selling.

Others are trying to find work or a new life.

Some head straight for a tented medical area where they can get vaccinations and basic healthcare which they cannot afford or get in Venezuela anymore.

“Life in Venezuela is very, very hard,” another mother says.

“There are no doctors, no nurses, no medicines.” She shrugs, like everyone else we talk to.

“But what can we do?”

Source: Sky News

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