“Colombia is a lifeline for western Venezuela,” said Rafael Velasquez Garcia, the International Rescue Committee’s (IRC) head of mission in Colombia. “Every day more than 35,000 Venezuelans cross the Simon Bolivar bridge alone to purchase food and receive vital medical assistance, among other services which are not available in Venezuela. Of that number around 4,000 do not return Venezuela – many of whom are without official documentation or status.”
This number does not include those who cross through the “trochas” or trails that are often controlled by Colombian armed groups and/or organised crime groups, which charge migrants and refugees fees and expose them to the risks of recruitment and robbery.
An assessment of Venezuelans in Cucuta and Villa del Rosario conducted by the International Rescue Committee in March 2018 showed that among respondents who spent the last month in Colombia, their self-reported highest priority need was to find a job (89 percent), followed by food (80 percent), and then shelter (58 percent).
As millions of Venezuelans wage a daily fight for survival at home, others have found a safe haven for their money across the Atlantic: Madrid’s real estate market.
During a walk around Salamanca, an upmarket district of the Spanish capital, Luis Valls-Taberner, a real-estate investment adviser, pointed out on almost every street a building that he said a wealthy Venezuelan had recently acquired.
Mr. Valls-Taberner would not identify the buyers. Some properties, he said, were purchased through investment companies based in Miami or elsewhere — but the money always came from Venezuela.
On foot or by private jet, almost everybody seems to want to escape the worker’s paradise.