Do you like being venezuelan

Colombia / Venezuela: The largest stretch of refugees in Latin America

SEND DATE Sun, 11/17/19 | 7:20 pm | The first

Since food has been scarce in Venezuela and the electricity has run out, the flow of refugees has not stopped. It should be five million by the end of the year. And most of them seek protection in Colombia. The country is literally overrun by the largest refugee route in the history of the continent. People who seek protection and a livelihood here. A social volcano.

Survival as a struggle

They are coming. Every day. Some Venezuelans want to buy groceries in the Colombian border town of Cucuta, others like Adanelyn Corrales: immigrate. With her son in her arms and a small suitcase, in it the life that remains for you. "The situation in Venezuela is threatening: if you don't support the government, you won't get any food. It hurts emotionally because I'm leaving my family behind." The goal of the 30-year-olds: The capital Bogotá, 600 kilometers away, even if Adanelyn heard: Survival there is said to be very difficult for Venezuelans.

Survival is a struggle. No matter how hard Andruss pedals, there is hardly enough to live on. He earns around 10 euros a day for 12 hours of work as a food delivery person. "My self-esteem is falling. Because this is not my life," complains Andruss Morales. "But well, I have to think positively. We just can't be picky here." In Venezuela, Andruss controlled imports and exports at the port, and was a good middle class. He struggled to find decent work in Bogotá. But there is no support from the Colombian state. "What would you do if you were me? Who would you turn to? How would you find work? If you didn't know anyone. When you were all alone."

Losers on both sides

1.5 million Venezuelans have officially fled to Colombia. Experts estimate that the number of unreported cases could be over two million. Most of them stay in Bogotá. Above all, those who cannot find work are visible. Who shout out the frustration on their president. Colombia has many problems of its own. The peace process is fragile. Students protest against government corruption that is stealing their money.

And now the many Venezuelans - the anger grows. "I have very good friends from Venezuela," said Colombian Camilo Diaz. "But there were also very bad people who did bad things." And the Colombian Herman Hernandez says: "They are taking our work away from us. Instead of one Colombian, two Venezuelans will be hired." Job theft and exploitation. The Venezuelan mass exodus creates real losers on both sides. "Instead of eight hours, which would be legal, I had to work twelve or fourteen hours for less than the minimum wage," says Andruss Morales.

We meet Claudia Lopez when she rushes from appointment to appointment. The new mayor of Bogotá doesn't like our topic. She neither wants to stir up xenophobia nor tolerate it. "People are starting to invent myths. That there are more robberies because of the Venezuelans. There is no proof of this. We have to fight xenophobia, create reception centers but also guarantee that Colombians keep their job opportunities.

The green border with Venezuela is too big to stop immigration. To help is a matter of humanity and morality. Venezuela has taken in refugees from Colombia for decades. "People are not fleeing for fun, but because there is a dictatorship there that is starving people. So we have to do everything we can to ensure that there is democracy again and that people return to their country."

"We are completely without rights here"

Democracy in Venezuela? That could take a long time! Ana Flores didn't want to wait that long. It's illegal in the country. Works as a prostitute - she has not found any other job.

"When you ask about a job, they say: You are Venezuelan? We don't want you! Then you think: All you have to do is steal. It's not easy to go to bed with someone you don't like, who smells bad doesn't turn you on. It's disgusting. Super, super disgusting. Hours of hope for a suitor, coupled with fear. Anyone who works illegally is fair game. "We have no rights here. We cannot report abuse. There are those who beat you, rape you, abuse you. It's hard, life here is tough. "

Andruss has had a long day with little income. He shares 10 square meters with another refugee. The water is up to his neck, he cannot send money to his family in Venezuela. If the money would only be enough, Andruss would like to bring his family over to him. "Next week my son will be four years old. On Wednesday. And everything is getting harder and harder. I understand the Colombians in many ways. They have to control immigration, it has slipped out of their hands. They are not doing well economically either The fact that we are here burdens them even more. "

At dawn, the next bus from the border town of Cucuta reaches the capital, with new Venezuelans and Adanelyn on board, who feels very small. "I don't know what to expect here, how they will treat me, what my luck will be here." Another family that hopes: for solidarity and a better life in Colombia.

A film by Xenia Böttcher, ARD Studio Mexico

Status: 11/18/2019 3:06 p.m.