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Venezuelans seek the 'Colombian dream'

Venezuelans seek the 'Colombian dream'

Juan Carlos and José Manuel climb to Transmilenio with a speaker and a microphone. They play the track of a renowned reggaeton song and begin to sing. His accent reveals that they are Venezuelans. Two brothers who arrived in Bogota last March looking for opportunities to survive. They do not make much money, but they assure that the little that they gather is more than they could obtain in Caracas.

The last months in Venezuela have been marked by countless marches, demonstrations and clashes between different opposition and ruling sectors. This, together with the lack of food and the devaluation of the Bolivar, has caused an immigration phenomenon increasingly evident in Colombia.

The main cities of the country, especially the border areas, Bogotá and Medellín have shown an increase in Venezuelan citizens like Juan Carlos and José Manuel, who are fleeing the crisis. Without resources, money, and without a place to go, they escape escaping from the growing wave of violence and crime spread by the neighboring country.

"We are living in a room in San Cristobal (south of the city), but we spent the first few days sleeping in the street. At first, thanks to some friends, we started selling sweets, but the police took our goods. We got this speaker rented and we started to do what we know, which is to sing, "Juan Carlos Zárate, 19, told KienyKe.com KienyKe With Juan Carlos Zárate, 19 years old.

With his brother they meet up to between $ 25,000 and $ 35,000 Colombian pesos, that is between 8 and 12 dollars, which means $ 16,000 and $ 23,450 bolivars. For a Venezuelan these figures are very good considering that one dollar is equivalent to 2,010 bolivars according to the Central Bank of Venezuela. The highest-value banknote in circulation is 100 bolivars, about five cents, which shows the devaluation of the currency.

Jose Manuel, 21, makes quick accounts and estimates that the little he manages to get on a day's work in public transport is equivalent to about two hundred 100 tickets. "We have many friends come here to Colombia with tickets and sell them in the Buses at one thousand pesos. It is a good business".

The same sentiment that at the beginning of the 20th century was classified by Europeans as "the American dream", is described by these young Venezuelans as "the Colombian dream." It is about leaving behind traditions, family, a home to try their luck in a foreign country that welcomes them with open arms, despite the clear difficulties they suffer.

So did these two brothers, who left their mother and younger brothers in Venezuela, while they try to raise enough money to bring them to Bogota. However, it is barely enough for them to survive.

Like these young people, thousands of Venezuelans have tried their luck in Colombia. According to official Colombian migration figures between January 1 and April 26 of this year, 8,306,201 people entered the country from Venezuela, but only 7,856,554 left for the neighboring country, so that 449,647 remained in the country.

Little by little this community is strengthened, to the point that different organizations have emerged that seek to protect them. Such is the case of the Association of Venezuelan Immigrants (Asovenezuela). Based at the communal action council of the Cedritos neighborhood, north of Bogotá, it provides legal advice to Venezuelan citizens seeking to legalize their situation in the country and hope to obtain some work permit.

Asovenezuela also seeks to promote the different Venezuelan ventures in the capital of the republic. The purpose, according to its founders, is to become a union-like force.

"This idea arose from the need to unite as a colony, we Venezuelans have a lot of history with immigration from other countries, many colonies like Portuguese, Italian, Jewish, Spanish and many others unite in our beloved Venezuela and help in all aspects. We must learn from these initiatives and apply them now as foreigners, because the reality is that we now live outside our country, "says Gustavo Maggi, one of the founders of the organization.

Venezuelan immigrants seek to build a future in a country that is not theirs. By whatever means they can, they seek to fulfill their "Colombian dream".

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