By Mariana Duque.
Some of them go shoeless in what will most likely be the longest walk of their lives. All of them have very little luggage, light clothes, and they look burned by the sun. Some carry children in their arms, in cars, or are walking at a slow pace. Some have tried to give their children away, knowing that they will not be able to make the trip.
Others are resting on the side of the road that connects San Cristobal to the municipalities of Junin, Capacho Nuevo, Capacho Viejo, and Bolivar. These are the so-called Caminantes, the Venezuelan walkers, coming from different parts of the country, men, and women who decided to migrate in search of a better quality of life.
On Tuesday, October 27, El Pitazo made a tour of the roads that connect the capital of Tachira with the border municipalities that lead to Colombia. Walkers everywhere you looked. From newborn children, infants, adolescents, adults, and the elderly, some with crutches, canes, and even walkers with walkers, they travel through the mountains of the Andean land to achieve their goal.
In the pictures taken by Carlos Eduardo Ramirez for El Pitazo, one feature is prominent: the backpack. The school bag with the colors of the Venezuelan flag is the top tool for walkers leaving the country. It was for kids in school, but now, kids and parents are loading the backpacks with their scarce possessions and undertaking a pilgrimage towards the border and an uncertain future.
Others used tied-up sheets as bags. Many carry children in their arms or cars. Now, in 2020, migrating is no longer an affair involving a single individual or a couple: whole families are undertaking the trip, neighbors say, they decided to migrate as a family. Parents, children, grandmothers, and even pets are on the road.
In conversation, it becomes evident that most of them are from the center of the country, not from the border state of Tachira. They claim to be mostly from Barquisimeto, Valencia, Caracas, Yaracuy, and Portuguesa.
All over the area, they are walking or resting in some shadow on the side of the road. They also stop to eat, thanks to the solidarity of neighbors in the municipalities bordering Colombia, who prepare food and water to help them.
“They don’t stop, they look like ants, they go from San Cristobal, Rubio, Capacho and San Antonio. The great majority of them go through green roads, trying to dodge the ravines. Although, some of them dare to pass in front of the law enforcement because there is an order to let them leave the country without charges, or problems, without arrests,” said photographer Carlos Ramirez.