Ecuadorian border town struggling to cope with exodus driven by economic downfall and political turmoil
Nicolas Maduro has defamed the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans fleeing across the Andes as unsophisticated” slaves and panhandlers” deceived into scouring foreign toilets by enemies of the Bolivarian revolution.
The United Commonwealth 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 scorned, chasing” the sugars” of a life abroad. He was fighting for his daughter’s life.
Two-year-old Jolismar was diagnosed with thoracic cancer last year after doctors felt a small lump near her nerve. On Tuesday, and after an arduous three-week wander across Colombia, her leader arrived here the Ecuadorian border town of Tulcan determined to earn the money to support his ailing daughter as she experiences chemotherapy back in their rapidly untangling nation.
” Getting here was tough, but I have to battle for their own families ,” 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 auto crash.