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  • There is a crisis here.

  • Millions of people have fled Venezuela as the country crumbles.

  • A monthly salary doesn't even buy you a box of cereal.

  • Many of them are coming over this border into Colombia.

  • There is a lot of hunger there.

  • Venezuela is in crisis. There is nothing there.

  • Here in this border town of Cucuta, you see people with suitcases full of all their belongings.

  • They don't know where they're going.

  • They just know they need to get out of their country.

  • All the stores are closed.

  • All the businesses are shut down. The butcher, the supermarkets.

  • If you need proof of how bad it is in Venezuela right now, look at this purse.

  • This purse is made entirely of the bills of the Venezuelan currency, the Bolivares.

  • Inflation is so high that this money is now completely worthless.

  • So my friend Jorge over here has gathered a ton of this stuff

  • and turned it into commodities, into purses, into sculptures.

  • It is worse than it sounds and it sounds pretty bad.

  • The country's inflation rate will rise to one million percent.

  • With all this money, you would have been rich- a millionaire.

  • More than a million Venezuelans have moved to Colombia in recent years.

  • And in an era of record setting migration, when borders seem to be getting thicker, harder to cross,

  • Colombia is doing something that you don't see very often.

  • It's opening its doors and it's letting people in.

  • The border crisis is shocking.

  • It's a real humanitarian crisis.

  • The economic crisis there is about to get even worse.

  • Is there a point in which Colombia and other countries in Latin America step in and say enough is enough now?

  • This border town of Cucuta is now totally bustling.

  • This is the very end of the border.

  • Where these people are entering.

  • And the one thing that you'll hear that is a little interesting is...

  • Se compra cabello,” we buy hair.

  • To continue on their way to make some money, the women will sell their hair.

  • You basically get 100,000 pesos, which is like 30 dollars.

  • I'm eating a Venezuelan styled hot dog

  • and the guys are reflecting on how much this hot dog would cost

  • if they were trying to buy it in Venezuela with the current economic situation.

  • A month's worth of salary.

  • -For a hot dog? -A month's worth of salary for a hot dog.

  • 87% of the country's households into poverty.

  • Images that we've never seen in Latin America before is unfortunately something we're seeing now.

  • The collapse of Venezuela didn't happen because of a civil war or a natural disaster,

  • but rather the colossal economic mismanagement by the country's leader, Nicolas Maduro.

  • In just a few years, Maduro grabbed control of most of the government

  • and then drove the country into an economic disaster worse than the Great Depression and the fall of the Soviet Union.

  • There are a lot of people who are poor and hungry.

  • We can't get medicine for our children's illnesses. Or vaccines.

  • In Venezuela right now, lunch costs a fortune.

  • Of the two million people who have left Venezuela in the midst of this crisis,

  • about one million have come to Colombia, easily more than any other country.

  • The response by most countries in the region has been to put up new measures to stop migrants from flooding into their country.

  • But not Colombia, here the borders stays relatively easy to cross.

  • And even though Colombia already has millions of its own people in need of humanitarian assistance,

  • the Colombian people and politicians continue to let these migrants in.

  • So I have decided that we're not going to close the border.

  • We have to give them support.

  • Now we're in the refugee camp, this is what they're calling it.

  • Here the government provides all sorts of services to these people.

  • We have orthodontists, legal assistance, psychological guidance.

  • Haircuts and manicures.

  • Today in the camp, they're playing music.

  • Some Colombian, some Venezuelan and everyone, locals, migrants

  • start singing and clapping along.

  • Borders don't divide us. We have the same sky over our heads.

  • We want you to know, that your flag is my flag.

  • We want to say, "thank you, Colombia. Bless you, Colombia."

  • We are very thankful to the Colombian people, thanks to them we can eat.

  • The Colombian government has given most of these migrants status,

  • allowing them to live in the country, get healthcare, work and study for two years.

  • But it's not just the Colombia government opening its doors.

  • In a neighborhood near the border, people are starting taking migrants into their homes,

  • indefinitely and for free.

  • Here I have four [people].

  • -Four people. Is it a family? -Yes, it's a family.

  • I am not afraid. I know if I do it with a good heart, God will protect me.

  • You have your own needs, is it hard to take on other people's needs?

  • Of course. It isn't easy. But us Colombians are fighters.

  • We try to support. The idea is to give them support.

  • Carlos has helped us, we will always be thankful for that.

  • They have treated us well. Thank God.

  • And to understand why these people are opening up their doors to Venezuelans,

  • you have to understand their past.

  • If you go back to the 1800's, Colombia and Venezuela were actually a part of the same

  • country called Gran Colombia.

  • This country eventually broke up into the modern states we know today.

  • Decades later, in the 80's and 90's, Colombia was experiencing

  • some of its worst violence in its decades long war with a rebel group called the FARC.

  • This war displaced more than seven million people,

  • more than any other modern war.

  • Hundreds of thousands of those people fled to Venezuela, where the economy was thriving

  • And the Venezuelans took them in.

  • I went to Venezuela. To the east of Venezuela. I was there for two years.

  • -And Venezuelans... ? -They treated me very well.

  • People there are very welcoming.

  • So in a sense, this the Colombians' way of paying back Venezuelans for the hospitality they were given.

  • Here at the border, you go down the street a little bit,

  • and you see this sign that says welcome to Colombia.

  • Above it, it says, “ Colombia and Venezuela, united forever."

  • In spite of of these two countries being different, having very different governments.

  • There is this common identity among the people.

  • But there are reasons to believe this sense of solidarity might not last forever.

  • A slew of crimes, allegedly committed by Venezuelans, have led to a new wave of skepticism in the country.

  • Earlier this year, the police chief in this border town told people

  • that they shouldn't rent their properties to Venezuelans after a migrant was arrested for a homicide.

  • Before, you'd arrive and the people would say, "Welcome! Come in!"

  • Everybody was eager to help.

  • But some have lost trust because sadly there are Venezuelans who have come to do bad.

  • But despite the growing skepticism,

  • many Venezuelans continue to see tremendous support in Colombia,

  • a country that has chosen to keep its doors open to the thousands of migrants who come in everyday.

There is a crisis here.

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Why Colombia has taken in 1 million Venezuelans

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    April Lu posted on 2018/12/05
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