Venezuelan migrants face tough choices as virus spreads

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Work dries up under lockdown but returning home could be more perilous than staying put

Gideon Long in Bogotá

At a bus station on the outskirts of Bogotá, Leidy Aparicio was desperately trying to get to Cúcuta, 550km away on Colombia’s border with Venezuela. From there, she planned to travel to her home city of Valencia, west of Caracas, where her family waited for her.

“Why stay here in Colombia?” she asked. “There’s nothing left for us. We have no work because of coronavirus, no money, no food and many of us have been kicked out of our houses. At least in Venezuela we’ll be with our own people.”

As the pandemic spreads through Latin America, thousands of Venezuelan migrants such as Ms Aparicio face a tough choice: do they stay in their adopted countries where they have no work because of the lockdown and where they have to pay rent? Or do they head home to Venezuela, where conditions are worse, but at least they will have a roof over their heads?