Why Colombia Has Taken In 1 Million Venezuelans

Colombia is currently dealing with a massive wave of refugees coming from Venezuela. A severe economic crisis under current President Nicolás Maduro is causing them to flee; inflation rates are high and there isn’t enough food available for people in Venezuela to eat. Thousands of Venezuelans are crossing the Simón Bolívar International Bridge in Cúcuta, a Venezuelan border town, every day. And Colombia doesn’t seem to be turning anyone away.

In the latest episode of Borders, a series from Vox’s Johnny Harris in which he travels the globe to listen to the people living on the front lines of international relations, Harris looks at why Colombia doesn’t deny entry to these refugees, the shared history between the two nations, and the potential limit of Colombia’s acceptance of incoming Venezuelans.

The video explains why while other countries in the region, such as Brazil, Chile and Panama, have put measures in to stop mass migration, Colombia has kept its borders open. At the migrant camp, the government is offering all kinds of assistance, from medical and psychological to haircuts and manicures.

It also shares commentary from displaced Venezuelans. “A monthly salary doesn’t even buy you a box of cereal”, one man says. “Venezuela is in crisis. There is nothing there”, a woman laments.

Harris also demonstrates how bad things are in Venezuela by visiting an artisanal stall of purses and sculptures made entirely of Bolivares bills. Inflation is so high, that this money is now completely worthless.

Watch the video to also discover how during the 80s and 90s, Colombia experienced a violent civil war with the FARC that displaced 7 million people, many of which went to Venezuela, and how this is Colombia’s way of paying back.