The bridge of Rumichaca, which connects Colombia with Ecuador, became congested again by the arrival of thousands of citizens of Venezuela, who leave their country. Last Thursday (January 18, 2018), the immigration offices of the two neighboring nations were overcrowded by the massive arrival of foreigners.
That has been the trend since the beginning of the year, authorities say. In the Ecuadorian dependency, where travelers are registered to enter the country, the number of service windows from 6 to 10 was expanded to cover the growing demand. They work 24 hours.
Despite this, past noon there was a line of Venezuelans stretching 150 meters long, waiting for a shift for the process. An official of the Ecuadorian office commented that an average of 3,000 daily transactions of foreigners are attended. Of them, 85% are from Venezuelans, who declared they came for tourism purposes.
Most carry large suitcases and some, even, flags, sweaters and hats with their patriotic colors. They are citizens like Asdrúbal Sansoneti, 40, a native of the city of Maturín, state of Monagas. He and five friends from his same town were eating bread with canned tuna and a soda, sitting on the sidewalk, while they waited to seal the travel documents. Sansoneti, a farmer, said he left his 300 hectares of land, where he raised cattle, but that was because of insecurity.
He asserted that the goal now is to reach Simón Bolívar, province of Guayas. There he aspires to work as a day laborer, with a countryman who arrived earlier and who would have rented a plot of land to grow corn.
Others, like José Ernesto Pereira, 38, a professor of mathematics, wanted to travel to Peru. He pointed out that some of his colleagues have already done so the previous year and that they are working as secondary teachers.
All the travelers who have decided to leave Venezuela point out that the economic and political crisis forced them to make that decision, in search of a better future. Data from the Colombian Migration Office indicate that one of the migratory points where the highest flow of llaneros was recorded was the Rumichaca bridge.
By this viaduct, in 2016, 32,000 Venezuelan citizens left for Ecuador. While the previous year, 231,000 people did it. Daniel Regalado, president of the Venezuelan Civil Association in Ecuador, believes that several of his compatriots are only passing through this country to Peru, Chile and other nations.
The massive migratory flow reappeared this month, said María García, owner of a store located next to the International Bridge of Rumichaca. She said something similar happened in the first quarter of the previous year. The journey between Cúcuta, on the border between Venezuela and Colombia, and Rumichaca takes two days. So says José Ernesto Pereira. He also noted that the bus trip to Guayaquil is around USD 132. In most cases, the money comes from savings, loans and the sale of their goods.
The travelers take advantage of the waiting time in the border zone to sleep in the pews, next to their suitcases. Others clean themselves in the toilets of the public baths. There are also those who eat something in the shops and street vendors. And, the most animated, they capture photographs that show their passage to Ecuador. Regalado states that his compatriots look for big cities, in some cases, to engage in informal commerce, until they see another way of using them.
This is the case of Johan Asúa, who comes from the state of Trujillo. Although he has a degree in Administration, he said he is willing to work in whatever appears to survive.
He aspires to arrive in Lima, where his family settled. Consider that many point to the south of the continent because you can get employment. That, he says, has read on social networks.
The Venezuelan Civil Association in Ecuador has official recognition in the country and offers legal advice and information on job offers. Regalado detailed that they have 35,000 members. They have offices in Quito, Guayaquil, Cuenca, Manta and Ambato. And, soon, a headquarters will be opened in Ibarra. These cities are the ones that concentrate the majority of Venezuelans, he said. (I)