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Last resorts: leaving Venezuela behind

Written by Thomas Power | 7th June 2019 |

Category: Opinion

Venezuela 1716111 1920

Back in February my Venezuelan sister-in-law Karina wrote a piece for us about the situation in her homeland. Many of you wrote to say how much her, and her sister’s, words had moved you. So I thought you might be interested to hear more as the situation evolves.

“I’m writing to ask if you have any bus company names that you have used in Peru. Matthew kindly has offered to help me take my youngest sister and her family out of Venezuela, in the coming weeks/days, to go and live in Peru with my other sister and her family. She has no food really and is looking not great, so sad to see my little nephews dreaming of chips, pizzas, etc. It has taken her a long time to reach this decision but now has completely lost any hope that things are going to change. She and her husband work but its just not enough to even buy any basics. It is just an awful situation in Venezuela with no end in sight.

They are going to Pucallpa (near the eastern Peruvian Amazon) where my other sister lives, they go there via Lima.

Their plans so far (things change on a daily basis due to all the corruption) are to fly from Caracas to a town near the Colombian border called Santo Domingo. From there they walk or bus across the Simon Bolivar bridge (it has reopened but they don’t know for how long) to the border town of Cúcuta. Once there they will get a bus to Lima, or may have to travel to Bogotá instead with various stopovers (apparently is cheaper, as many are taking advantage and increasing the prices from Cúcuta).

The problem with flights (which would have been the more straightforward option) from Venezuela, are: my brother in law’s passport expired 8 months ago, he has been having an awful time renewing it. You can leave by bus with only your ID card and expired passport, apparently. My sister could fly out with her 3 children, even with my brother in law’s blessing but officials may not let them leave or may ask for some payment if they feel like it, eating into the money we are sending them.

I don’t trust the information I am getting from the websites in Venezuela or the region. There is a shortage of fuel too (in Venezuela of all places!) so some planes aren’t flying. Taking the bus directly from Venezuela is risky, lots of local bus companies have run out of fuel plus there are so many muggings on the way, many from government supporters.

My brother in law can leave by bus on his own, but I think as it is such an emotional and hard situation not made easy by having 3 young children, she will prefer her husband’s support and travel together. My sister in Peru says by bus is the better and a reasonable option from Colombia???

Any information you may have will be greatly appreciated, thank you.”

Although Venezuela has disappeared from our front pages, the situation continues to deteriorate, so much so that Karina’s youngest sister is now leaving the country. The complexity of planning how to get out strikes me as interesting. Picturing the family, any family, as they walk away from everything they have known makes me profoundly sad.

This, or a version of this, must be happening for many thousands of people across the world. Perhaps shining a light on the mundane realities makes it all more real and can help us be more thankful, and more compassionate.

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Further reading

Venezuela protest cc wikimedia commons

Venezuela, a point of view

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