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Thousands of Venezuelan refugees enter Ecuador; Some will stay, others will continue to Peru and Chile

By Karla Betania Sánchez Arismendi

The Rumichaca bridge, located on the border between Colombia and Ecuador, is filled with Venezuelans waiting to enter Ecuador.

The Colombia – Ecuador border crossing.

Recently, the line extended over 150 meters for those waiting to process their entry. Most of them carry large suitcases; some display Venezuelan flags or their country’s national colors on their clothing.

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In 2017, 231,000 Venezuelans crossed the Rumichaca bridge into Ecuador. Ecuadorian authorities expect more in 2018 as crime, political conflict and shortages of basic supplies continue to plague their home country.

The Venezuelans arriving at Rumichaca are tired, most of them having endured a two-day bus trip from Cucuta, the entry point into Colombia from Venezuela. A trip from Cucuta to Guayaquil, a popular destination for many, costs an average $132, an amount that many of the travelers struggle to save. Most are forced to sell personal belongings and to take loans from family members and friends to make the journey. In a country with an inflation rate of more than 2,000 percent, coming up with money to convert into U.S. dollars is a daunting task.

When asked why they are leaving Venezuela, most tell of rampant crime and political violence. All tell of chronic shortages of food, medicine and other essentials.

One of those crossing the border last week, Asdrubal Sansoneti, says he had a 300-hectare farm in the countryside but was forced to abandoned it because of crime in his area. He plans to settle in Guayas Province, in the Simon Bolivar community, where he hopes to find work as a laborer. Most of all, he looks forward to living in a peaceful country.

Although the vast majority of Venezuelans enter Ecuador on 90-day tourist visas, everyone, including immigration officials, understands that these are not pleasure trips. Many Venezuelans will apply for longer-term visas once they settle in Ecuador, although many others will overstay their visa and look for work in the informal labor market.

Other Venezuelans are just passing through, headed for Peru and Chile, or even Argentina, according to Daniel Regalado, president of The Civil Association Venezuela in Ecuador. “Ecuador is a destination but it is also a transit point to other countries,” he says, explaining that his organization assists all Venezuelans fleeing their homeland.

Ecuador immigration authorities estimate that 42,000 Venezuelans now live in Ecuador, almost all of them arriving in the past two years. Their favorite destinations are Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca, where about 3,000 have settled.

Source: El Comercio

6 thoughts on “Thousands of Venezuelan refugees enter Ecuador; Some will stay, others will continue to Peru and Chile

  1. I live in Quito. I can’t quantify things, but I’ve met alot of Venezuelans living here. I think 42,000 in the entire country is a very low number and probably only accounts for those on current visas.

  2. Best of luck to the Venezuelans in finding a new life in another country. To leave your country, cultural roots, friends and family is a difficult option…embrace them.

  3. This strikes me personally. Just yesterday, I heard from my friend in Venezuela who like others, scrimped, scraped and saved enough money to leave the horrible conditions under which she had been living. At the Venezuelan/Colombian border, she was robbed. I will share her words with you:

    “Yo muy mal intente salir del país y cuando llegue a frontera haciendo la cola para sellar pasaporte me robaron mi cartera y quede sin nada ahora me regresare a mi ciudad con la tristeza de mi alma”

    My wife is a Colombian refugee who fled the persecution of FARC and who is now a legal, permanent resident of Ecuador. She works for a foundation that helps settle refugees who have fled their home countries and are trying to resettle in Cuenca. The tragedies she sees daily are difficult to witness and far more difficult to bear for those that are suffering.

    My personal hope is that Maduro and his minions rot in hell and that the decay process starts soon.

  4. It should be some interesting times at the border if Ecuador wants proof of health insurance beginning February 5th to enter the country.

    1. No Darwin, those thousands of Venezuelans are already familiar with the Latin American culture so they won’t worry about it until and unless the statute is enforced. If that happens they’ll either present fake paperwork or stop paying on the policies as soon as they are in because they know they won’t get deported for it.

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