Hoping to return home : the face of Venezuelan migrants crossing the border to Colombia
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In 2017, a record number of Venezuelans crossed that country’s border to Colombia, fleeing the economic crisis, the shortage of food and medicine, the violence, and, in some cases, government political persecution. For Venezuelans, the adjustment has been uniquely difficult: at one time, their country was one of the richest countries in Latin America – a magnet for immigrants who wanted a better life. Their grief of leaving is accompanied by a hope to return home. The recent Venezuelan migration is also notable in the region’s history because of its magnitude: in 2017 there were an estimated 1,000,000 Venezuelans crossing. For the least privileged of Venezuelan migrants, Colombia is the most natural destination: these countries not only share 1,378 miles of border, but they also have a common cultural and migratory history. Many of the Venezuelans who have recently made this journey have settled in Santa Marta, Colombia, a coastal city 155 miles from the border, after crossing the border via illegal trails in the north, an area called La Guajira. Their stories represent the human faces of this unique migration process.