Ecuadorian border town struggling to cope with exodus driven by economic collapse and political turmoil
Nicolas Maduro has maligned the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing across the Andes as unsophisticated” slaves and panhandlers” defrauded into scour foreign toilets by adversaries of the Bolivarian revolution.
The United Nations said 2.3 million people, more than 7% of Venezuela’spopulation, have left the country since 2015, with most heading to Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. Half a million have arrived this year in Ecuador alone.
But when Daniel Luquez, an jobless carpenter, set off from his home in the city of Guanare in July he was not, as Venezuela’s president recently scoffed, chasing” the honeys” of a life abroad. He was fighting for his daughter’s life.
Two-year-old Jolismar was diagnosed with thoracic cancer last year after physicians encountered a small lump near her mettle. On Tuesday, and after an arduous three-week journeying across Colombia, her leader arrived in the Ecuadorian border town of Tulcan determined to earn the money to support his ailing daughter as she undergoes chemotherapy back in their rapidly disentangling nation.
” Getting here was tough, but I have to battle for my family ,” said Luquez, 27, who hitchhiked and hobbled almost 1,200 miles to Ecuador. Six years ago his left leg was amputated as a result of a automobile crash.