Venezuelans Flock to Colombia to Stock Up on Basic Necessities

Mix of fresh fruits on wicker bascketGlobally, there are over 100 billion online searches being conducted each month. But for Venezuelans suffering through a severe economic crisis, simple food items are in scarce supply, let alone computers and mobile devices.

Their failing economic state was exemplified last weekend when Venezuela president Nicolas Maduro temporarily opened the country’s border with Columbia.

For hungry Venezuelans, this meant that they could go and stock up on much needed food supplies. Considering their own supermarkets have been without basic necessities for months, Venezuelans of all ages and backgrounds were quick to flock to Columbia and buy toiletry and food items they desperately need.

Packing the bridges that cross into Colombia like cattle, CEOs mixed with pregnant women, the elderly mingled with children, all carrying suitcases which they hoped to stuff with food. Many were forced to use their emergency savings to stock up on toothpaste, shampoo, cooking oil, and flour.

In a country that is known to be home to the world’s largest oil reserves, the falling price of oil globally has led to their demise. Combined with a president who has a high disapproval rating and who claims to be a victim of an economic war, Venezuela is headed down a slippery slope.

The International Monetary Fund believes that Venezuela’s economy will shrink 10% this year and forecasts that the inflation rate will grow to a staggering 700%.

These numbers are just the beginning. On top of the food shortages, Venezuelan hospitals are ill-equipped and people are dying from lack of trusted medical care. Their humanitarian actions have led neighboring countries to close their borders and have even considered expelling the country from the Organization of American States.

The Colombians want to help. Officials for the country have made clear that they will not allow any more temporary border openings, and are instead looking to re-open the border permanently.

Colombia’s Foreign Minister, Maria Angela Holguin, tells BBC, “Let’s work so that the opening, the next opening, is definitive.”