Look at the bill like a sculptor in front of a piece of new plaster. Starts. One, two … ten folds. A cone the size of a thumb is ready. Take another ticket and another … and so on until you have five armed points. The star, almost complete. At his feet, a huge open black suitcase shows in its entrails a collection of bolivars. One hundred, two thousand … it does not matter. “There’s less than a dollar there,” he finally speaks.
Beyond there is a half-meter cardboard that pleads in black letters: “I am from Venezuela, collaborate with me”. Origami is an art that consists of folding paper to obtain figures; but in the central park of Huaquillas it is the only hope of Enger Medina to take something to the stomach. He has tattooed arms and a cap of the flag of his country, brown eyes, dry skin and four years in prison, recently lived, which leave traces on his face to his few 23.
Before making origami with bolivars, he was a thief and kidnapper; but that life was in Merida. There where his daughter of a year and a half and his promise to change for good and resurface home. He would have stayed, but being a bricklayer, the new facet he chose after the prison, is not business in a country where a basic salary is not enough to put together an arepa. That is why he is here, in the park of Huaquillas, surrounded by many like him.
The plaza feels the crisis of Venezuela more and more: signs asking for help, sheets improvising mattresses, pleas that are repeated as a macabre echo in every corner: “Collaborate me. I have not eaten “
Luismar Dugarte and Yusaina Farfán, at another end of the park, launch another plea. This time on a piece of white board: “We are Venezuelans, we want to work”. They do not exceed 30. The theme is strong, Luismar recognizes, there are many and you cannot get an easy place. “That’s why we’re sleeping on sidewalks. So we have seven days, “he confesses.
It is assumed that the majority of Venezuelans take the country by the way, that they go to Peru, that there and in Chile they have their relatives and friends, that Ecuador is only part of the way. But that every time feels less in the center of Huaquillas.
They fill paths, benches, main roads. Some are engaged in informal commerce, others to ask for money. They live in the street for weeks and some have even improvised homes on abandoned lots. Vinicio Quezada, communications director of the Municipality of Huaquillas, admits to this newspaper that until less than a month ago the influx of these citizens was transitory.
“They entered through the Rumichaca bridge and left Ecuador to Peru; but now they are staying, occupying public spaces and becoming a problem of a humanitarian nature. “
The mechanics of the homeless Venezuelans in Huaquillas is almost written in a guide. Luismar and Yusania tried to stay to sleep in the park the first days they arrived. “Now we prefer a path near the old hospital. It’s less cold, “describes the first. They subsist on the sale of candies. Near the park, there is a bathroom that they rent. “Using the toilet costs 15 cents and showering, 50. Since we only bring a couple of changes to costs, we have no problems. You survive, “says.
This methodology is repeated in each migrant consulted. Nobody talks about leaving the country.
Of the half million Venezuelans who have entered the country, at least 80 thousand decided to stay. In Huaquillas the competition between them is strong. At each corner there are at least three young people cleaning windshields and caramelers multiply.
The Municipality restricts commercial activity in access to the Catholic Church, medical centers and areas for the disabled. For now there is no major or prohibition with the informal sale. The police of the Cabildo reaches barely 25 troops.
There is a shelter in the 8 de Septiembre cooperative that only has capacity for 60 people. Today is closed. It would not supply the number of Venezuelans currently on the street, the mayor’s representative points out, and although he acknowledges that this figure is unknown because it grows daily. “In other emergencies we have used schools, but that is also impossible, children are in class,” he adds.
At this moment, a new concern is growing in the local government of Huaquillas. “The need and lack of sources of work, when it reaches the extreme, generates contradictory acts with the law, such as robberies and the appearance of gangs. Cases have already been detected. They are not the constant, but we fear that this is growing. “
A path of weeping and nostalgia
Another Venezuela on the border
Since August 8, Ecuador declared the bordering provinces with Peru and Colombia to be migratory emergencies, due to the massive arrival of Venezuelan citizens in the territory, some 4,200 incomes per day, humanitarian corridors have been improvised in those places.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility of the country said that this declaration applies in the provinces of Carchi (front was with Colombia), Pichincha (Andean center, whose capital is Quito), and El Oro (bordering Peru), to provide “urgent attention to the unusual migratory flows of Venezuelan citizens on the northern border”.
At the Binational Care Center in Frontera (Cebaf) that place migrants arrive daily, like Matilde Caldera. She is 33 years old and left three children aged 15, 12 and 8 in charge of a brother of 22.
In Venezuela, she worked in agriculture or cleaning houses, but the situation became untenable. She grabbed suitcases and left. The broken heart, the north is Trujillo. It must have arrived the previous Saturday, to the tail, because there was not silver all the way.
A tent offers food in the Cebaf. A relief for her that she had not eaten for two days. She drank water too. “Almost no one drinks water in these long walks,” She tells this newspaper. She is right, improvised marquee staff of the Ministry of Health confirmed that since emergency care was opened, most come with symptoms of dehydration.
There are worse pictures. Babies who have not eaten in days for lack of formula milk to those whose parents fed them only with water, or older adults who have not followed a regular treatment due to the lack of medicine suffered by Venezuela. All with the dream of entering Chile or Peru, with the expectation of improving their quality of life.
The Cebaf has become these days a kind of resting place that migrants appreciate. However, the Defender of the Town of Huaquillas, Eduardo Astudillo, criticized the fact that despite the emergency is closed office hours. “The work after the decree should be permanent at least during August.
There are people who arrive at dawn and do not find attention. That is not the idea. “This declaration of emergency, which will be in force this month, is coordinated by the Ministry of Economic and Social Inclusion (MIES) and has a budget of 3,778,194 dollars.
On the border, despair was also beginning to be felt for the passport requirement. Many have expired or too deteriorated ID cards. Others find it impossible to obtain a passport. The measure rules from yesterday. (I)