Venezuelans are not beggars
From Colombia to Venezuelans
We were confronted with the consequences of the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela very soon after our arrival in Cartagena. Outside of the first supermarket, we went into I met Jorge, who was desperately trying to sell candies to make money for rent and food for himself and his family. It is very difficult for him to find a job because he doesn’t have a passport. But he showed us his ID card and the first glance at his photo revealed that he had lost a lot of weight in the meantime. He was complaining that he could not stay in his country if he wanted to survive, and so he went away with the whole family. “At home Maduro is telling how he sends helicopters to bring people back, but that’s a lie,” Jorge is telling us, “No one believes him. Only his government and the army stand behind him.”
Eva – a concrete picture of Venezulans
Eva who worked in our hostel painted an even more concrete picture of life in Venezuela for us. Two years ago she illegally crossed the border with her baby in her hand. She has a passport but her baby does not. She went through 28 such patrols and each asked about 85 cents. At the last patrol she no longer had any money so she had to give up her shoes and walk for 2 days barefoot. She left the country because for an average monthly salary of 7€ a person is able to buy 1 pack of eggs or food for a maximum of three days. She now has work, but she also started selling candies.
Almost everyone starts the same way. A few of the Venezuelans just beg in the streets. Beggars and homeless in Colombia are often associated with drug addicts because it is the most common reason why people end up living in the street. Venezuelan wants to make his money. And here in Cúcuta you can buy anything in any possibly profitable place. On the bus from Cúcuta to La Parada, it has rarely happened that someone who wanted to sell candies, wafers, key rings or a singer would not get on. In his voice you can remark the sadness over his fate and a need for help, but always revealed with dignity. He does not beg, but sells out of necessity. He announces the price which is mostly 1000 pesos (less than 30 cents) for what the passengers have in their hands. Of course you can buy more.
Local traffic creates great space for fast and efficient street shows. The roads are constantly full of cars, and sufficient number of drivers will always stop on each red lights for the next number with a precisely timed, according to the traffic lights interval. In the evening, jugglers, as well as musicians and clowns, occupy the crossroads. It is not uncommon to see the clown at three o´clock in the afternoon walking along the motorway from the border to Cúcuta. But the competition is big. Once, the duet sang the song in the doors of our bus while we were standing on the traffic lights. However, no one paid them. One vendor just left our bus a while ago.
It was not just that. Venezuelans in Cúcuta are very annoyed with the migration of the Venezuelans. Cucuta is a city with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country. The flood of migrants, who are willing to do any work for as much as 5 times less money (and even more), is making the situation worse and affecting all possible jobs, both legal or illegal. And so according to Lorena Verdugo who works for Norwegian Refugee Council you can get a haircut here for 2000 pesos (55 cents), you can have a prostitute for 25,000 (7€) and you can order the murder for 50,000 (14€).
Greetings from Matej from Slovakia Learn To Travel Program.
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