Venezuelan “Walkers” Flee Crisis One Step at a Time

Speeches Shim

Monday, February 4, 2019
Carlos, Anthony, and Danny are “caminantes” — three of the hundreds of Venezuelan walkers who are walking across Colombia after fleeing the economic and political crisis in their home country.
Photo credit: Alison Harding, USAID/OFDA

More than one million Venezuelans are currently sheltering in Colombia after fleeing the political and economic crisis in their home country. Many have spent their entire life savings getting there, and are now traversing the country on foot to reach distant towns or other neighboring countries. Meet three Venezuelans embarking on a journey walking across Colombia.

Carlos, Anthony, and Danny* — who have been walking for six days straight — are not even halfway through their 400 mile journey to Medellín, Colombia, where they’re hoping a family friend can get them work.

In central Venezuela, they were neighbors. Carlos worked as a mechanic; Anthony a banker; and 17 year-old Danny aspired to be a barber.

But their lives were put on hold as they watched their city fall apart, a casualty of Venezuela’s deteriorating economic crisis.

“Everything is a mess. Now, instead of buses, they have old trucks that barely run to take you to work. At the markets, people get in fights over the last two kilos of flour,” Anthony said. “That’s why we’re here in Colombia. Everyone is leaving because of the cruel reality in Venezuela.”

The final straw, Carlos said, was the night they watched a family eat what has become the neighborhood’s new plato típico: wet paper napkins. During this crisis, eating paper products has become the option of last resort for too many families looking to dull the hunger pangs that have become too agonizing to bear.

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