B1 Intermediate US 4248 Folder Collection
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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.
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Why Colombia has taken in 1 million Venezuelans

4248 Folder Collection
April Lu published on December 10, 2018    April Lu translated    Evangeline reviewed
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