Venezuela: A Country Torn Asunder by Oil
A fellow digital nomad, Beth McIntyre, living in Colombia recently took a trip down to the Colombia-Venezuela boarder and crossed over for a day. What she found was shocking. Once the richest country in South America with massive biodiversity and known for their oil export, the country has been in almost total ruin since 2013 when Hugo Chavez died – she shared with us some of her impressions over the boarder.
Where are you visiting in Venezuela and what brought you there?
We entered from the Colombian border that runs between the Colombian city of Cucuta and the Venezuelan town of San Antonio. From there we drove about an hour to a city called San Cristobal. Since moving to Colombia a year ago, I had learned of the current conflict in Venezuela. When I knew we were going to be going to the border town of Cucuta (where my boyfriend has family, and spent a chunk of his life living) I was determined to cross the border and see first hand the situation destroying a country that was once the richest country in Latin America.
What was your first impression?
When crossing the border, you have to walk about 100m over a bridge that connects the two countries, as the border has currently been closed to vehicles for about 2 years. Crossing, the magnitude of people is astounding. I have crossed many borders before, but never had I seen so many people. Upon entering the Venezuelan side of the border, the entire atmosphere is different. Firstly the amount of people, there is a lot. We went in the morning, when I believe it is the busiest. A long line to exit, another for passport control, literally hundreds of people. People leaving for the day to buy supplies, and others leaving to make a new home in Colombia. I had never seen so many people at a land crossing before. The town we entered was run down. The streets filled with pot holes. Street vendors on both sides selling mostly food. Walking through the streets, most of the places appeared to be shut down. A friend of my boyfriend said the town used to be filled with businesses that had been forced to shut down. Later, at a supermarket, there was a long line to people waiting to enter, and more people inside. The feeling was a somber one, and although to me, the run down feeling felt like any other small border town in Latin America, the general feeling of the place felt sad and tense.
What has been most shocking?
Can you Describe the Vibe there?
Another odd thing was the propaganda. In the mall we went to there was various signs, while at the customs there was a sign saying “Here in this customs, you don’t speak badly of Chavez” (Chevaz is the ex-president, basically the guy that turned the country to shit).
What have you loved about it?
The people. Even though I only saw a small part of it, the country is very nice itself too, the nature etc.