Venezuelans challenge COVID-19 to buy food in Brazil

Medicine and food are cheaper on the Brazilian side of the border, causing some Venezuelans trekking for hours through the bush by illegal crossings.

The green roads: Illegal passageways are controlled by native Venezuelan groups, according to witnesses. Referential photo (2019) by Glorimar Fernández.

By Glorimar Fernandez.

It is an open secret: more and more people are making the walk to the border using the trails that connect the town of Santa Elena de Uairen in the south of Bolivar state in Venezuela, with Brazil, to buy food and medicine.

The high cost of food and medicines in the capital of the municipality of Gran Sabana, and the impossibility of moving to the center of Venezuela due to gasoline shortages, has increased the influx of people who walk at least two hours to enter Brazilian territory.

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A neighbor who took this journey told El Pitazo that in Pacaraima (Brazil), they get all kinds of food up to seven times cheaper than in Venezuela, and the same goes for medicines.

There are also dozens of Venezuelans stranded in Brazil, who came for food but had to stay for the border shutting down by Maduro orders, a decision denounced by the United Nations.

“There are people desperate in Pacaraima, who wants to return to their home in Santa Elena, and vice versa. We have been in lockdown for five months, and the merchants are taking advantage of us by selling everything more and more expensive,” said the man, who assured that those who guard the trails are the indigenous people.

Even though the border has been officially closed since March due to the COVID-19 pandemic, transit on the trails continued, with gasoline, other fuels, and food smuggled from Brazil.

Law enforcement has arrested dozens of people, but the situation does not seem to abate.
Also, people reported an outbreak of COVID-19 in the Pemon native areas, but the ethnic group has responded to treatment.

Patria Para Todos party members in this municipality posted to their Facebook account: “The southern border trails, an escape route from hyperinflation, lack of medicine and fuel, gas, in response to inefficient policies of the national and regional governments.”

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