Sunday, 5 July 2020

Displaced Venezuelans face poverty and pandemic in Colombia

According to official statistics, there are more than 3,200 cases of COVID-19 in Colombia and there have been at least 144 deaths. As the number of cases rises, President Ivan Duque has extended a nationwide lockdown to at least April 26. He has pledged to support citizens who will lose their livelihoods.

Since 2016, more than 4.6 million Venezuelan have fled the country, mostly to other Latin American countries like Colombia. Photo: UNHCR/Fabio Cuttica

This does not extend to most of the migrants in Colombia, many of whom work in low-paid informal jobs.

There are about 1.5 million Venezuelans currently living in Colombia. Many of them work informally.

Venezuelans who have lost their jobs may also face homelessness if they can no longer pay their rent. Others already live on the streets. Thousands of Venezuelans have decided to make the trek home – back to Venezuela — even though it might be hundreds of kilometers long for many of them and the border between Colombia and Venezuela is officially closed.

- paying the bills -

‘This dangerous route’

Yuri Mendoza is 17 years old and five months pregnant. She started her journey back to Venezuela in Cali, Colombia’s third-biggest city, where she used to sell lemonade and candy at intersections. But she was shooed on by police and told to go back to where she came from.

“Venezuela is my home,” Mendoza said, “and, if something happens to me, it should be there.” She decided to return via the same route she had taken a year before: a two-week walk across the mountains.

Mendoza had left Venezuela during the economic fallout from the political upheaval that followed the 2013 death of President Hugo Chavez. Venezuela’s domestic situation has not improved and is likely to get worse as global oil prices plunge. Furthermore, the already-deteriorated healthcare system is not in a position to cope with coronavirus patients.

- paying the bills -

Juan Carlos Atacho is 32 and has been living with his wife and three children in an impoverished district of Colombia’s capital, Bogota, for a year. He used to work in a hair salon, earning US$7 per day. The salon was forced to close for the lockdown. The family lost their only source of income, and the rent is due in a few days.

Atacho said the family would only go back to Venezuela if it were their very last option.

After the borders were closed, the only route back is illegal, which means dealing with smugglers and drug dealers. “I will not take this dangerous route with my children again,” he said.

Studies of current and former citizens of Venezuela indicated that reasons for leaving the country included lack of freedom, high levels of insecurity and lack of opportunity. Image from https://www.worldbank.org

Officials in Colombia and Venezuela are negotiating a humanitarian corridor.

“It is a difficult situation because we don’t want any Venezuelans or anybody to be on the streets while the country is under lockdown,” said Felipe Munoz, the Colombian government’s commissioner for migration.

“Venezuela let in about 1,000 people in recent days,” he added, expressing optimism that this would continue.

- paying the bills --

Article originally appeared on Q Colombia and is republished here with permission.

Q24N
Q24N
Q24N is an aggregator of news for Latin America. Reports from Mexico to the tip of Chile and Caribbean are sourced for our readers to find all their Latin America news in one place.

Related Articles

Sinaloa Cartel ring leader in Costa Rica is sentenced to 12 years in prison

Antonio León Rojas, a Mexican national and member of the Sinaloa...

Nicolas Maduro’s main front man, Alex Saab, is arrested in Africa

Authorities in Cape Verde have arrested a businessman, singled out...

MOST READ

Couple who lied about COVID-19 to hospital staff to be fined ¢2.2 Million

(QCOSTARICA) The Ministry of Health reported that it is in the process to impose a fine on a couple that concealed from the staff...

Two more weeks with so many new cases of COVID-19 could collapse Health

(QCOSTARICA) From Sunday 21 to Sunday 28 June,  a total of 1,003 new positive cases of COVID-19 were registered. In the last five days,...

Costa Rica records death number 14 from covid-19: 87-year-old woman was admitted to ‘anticovid’ hospital

Rico's COVID-19 - The country registered the fourteenth death of a COVID-19 patient on Saturday night, an 87-year-old Costa Rican woman from the province...

COVID-19 Costa Rica: 151 new cases, for a total of 3,130

(QCOSTARICA) Today, Sunday, the Ministry of Health reported 151 new cases of Covid-19 for an accumulated total of 3,130, with an age range of...

COVID-19 Costa Rica: 139 new cases; intensified use of facemasks

(QCOSTARICA) The Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, reported on Monday 139 new cases of COVID-19 in the country, bringing the total count of infections...

US Embassy schedules flights to repatriate its citizens in Costa Rica

(QCOSTARICA) The United States Embassy in Costa Rica has scheduled flights so that its citizens can return to their country in the coming days,...

Let's Keep This Going!

To be updated with all the latest news and information about Costa Rica and Latin America.

Article originally appeared on Q Colombia and is republished here with permission.