Sunday 26/05/2019 - 09:22 pm

Colombian border town becomes an economic lifeline for Venezuelans

2016.08.29 05:58

 Ever since Venezuela temporarily reopened six border crossings withColombia in July, more than 1,000 Venezuelans a day have been streaming into this northern border city as an economic lifeline.


As their countrys economy spirals into ever-worsening chaos, Venezuelans see this city 18 miles from the border as a place to earn extra money, buy food and medicine impossible to find back home and smuggle scarce goods back into Venezuela.


“Getting to Colombia from my hometown Maracaibo was the most awful and exhausting trip,” Bettabeth Vera, 29, said as she sat on a plastic chair next to a man getting a haircut on the sidewalk of a busy street. “The path was very dusty and rocky. Some men would harass and rape women,” she said.


Many Venezuelans still get in through unofficial crossings, or trochas, along the porous border to avoid the high entrance fee and long lines to enter Colombia.


Vera, a single mother, came here to work as a prostitute. In a week, she sent $100 to her daughter, Lizabeth, 13, and her sister in Venezuela.


“I don’t want (Lizabeth) to go through the trocha and I am afraid of how much drugs there are around here, especially cocaine and marijuana, because she’s a teenager,” she said, showing her daughter’s name tattooed on her left arm.


Venezuelans hitch rides to make the remote crossings and pay smugglers as much as $2,000 to get into Colombia.

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