On foot or by bus, the long return to the country during a Venezuelan outing, in the midst of the Covid pandemic

As a result of the containment measures, many Venezuelans were unemployed, as many of them worked in the informal sector, for example as street vendors.“The owner of my home said she would kick me out if I couldn’t pay the rent”

Yurky’s Rosario is a Venezuelan who arrived in Cali, Colombia in early 2019. She worked in the kitchen at a restaurant before the pandemic:

The restaurant had to close, so I was without income and I couldn’t find a job. So it was no longer possible for me to pay the rent, the bills, to continue sending money to my family in Venezuela … I sold business, but it was not enough to pay the full amount of the last rent: the owner of my accommodation said that she would chase me if I didn’t pay everything. So I decided to leave and went to the town hall square, where I spent four nights.

Venezuelans gathered in Cali town hall on April 8, asking for help to return to their country.

Eduardo Azuaje is a Venezuelan who also arrived in Cali in late 2019, after four years in Ecuador. Prior to the pandemic, he worked for himself in various sectors (painting, ceramics, etc.), and his volume of work fell when the containment was introduced. He could not pay the entire rent and also decided to leave when the landlord threatened to kick him out:

Although the situation is also very complicated in Venezuela, we can go to my sister’s house and we have family there. But it was a very difficult decision to leave.

Eduardo Azuaje and his family say goodbye to their neighbor, in Cali, before leaving.

For his part, Neo Mendoza is a Venezuelan who arrived in Lima, Peru, in early 2019. He explains that the pandemic has only hastened his departure, because he already wanted to return earlier, to see his daughters again, and because he had not found a stable job in Peru:

I was a chef at a restaurant and when quarantine was ordained I lost my job. So I started washing the windshields on cars at the intersection, so I could eat some. And I was thrown out of my room in mid-April because I couldn’t pay the rent.

The restaurant where Neo Mendoza worked before the pandemic.

Like our three observers, many Venezuelans have been expelled or threatened with eviction from their homes because they cannot afford their rent. In Colombia, however, the government had prohibited explicitly quarantined drafts, from the end of March (which is not the case in Peru).