Around 25,000 desperate Venezuelans are walking across the Simon Bolivar International Bridge daily in search of something to eat, the Associated Press reported.
“Those of us here on the border are seeing their pain,” Colombian citizen Paulina Toledo said.
Toledo volunteers at a kitchen that feeds up to 900 people at a time in Cucuta — just across the border from Venezuela.
A Catholic shelter, the Case de Paso, serves up to 2,000 meals a day in Cucuta, AP reported. Some Venezuelans are waiting up to four hours just to eat a bowl of chicken and rice there.
Venezuelan Erick Oropeza gets up at 4 a.m. to walk to Cucuta to sell soft drinks on the street in order to buy food for his family, AP reported. Oropeza has to peddle pop because his old job at the Venezuelan Ministry of Education did not pay enough to buy food for his family.
“I never thought I’d say this,” Oropeza said. “But I’m more grateful for what Colombia has offered me in this short time than what I ever received from Venezuela my entire life.”
Venezuela Military Profits From Peoples’ Hunger
Venezuela’s food shortage was deliberately created by the military, which is profiting from hunger, Al Jazeera reported.
“Lately, food is a better business than drugs,” said retired General Cliver Alcala. “The military is in charge of food management now, and they’re not going to just take that on without getting their cut.”
The military is in charge of the food supply but it refuses to import enough to feed the people, Al Jazeera reported. Instead, soldiers divert the food and sell it on the black market.
“If Venezuela paid market prices, we’d be able to double our imports and easily satisfy the country’s food needs,” retired agronomy professor Werner Gutierrez said. “Instead, people are starving.”
The only way Venezuelan grocers like Jose Campos can stock their shelves is to bribe soldiers, Al Jazeera reported.
“The military would be watching over whole bags of money,” Campos said. “They always had what I needed.”
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