Venezuelan migrants wait at the Interpol headquarters to get paperwork needed for a temporary residency permit in Lima, Peru, August 16, 2018. REUTERS/Mariana Bazo
It’s been one year and one day since David Pernia, a Venezuelan father of three, left his family behind to find construction work in Peru. With the country deeply mired in an economic crisis, the only way his family could survive was for him to take his chances here, in Lima, 2,700 miles (4350 kilometers) from Caracas.
With Peru announcing that it will begin requiring Venezuelans arriving to carry passports starting August 25, his wife Yance and their three children boarded buses to make their way through Colombia, Ecuador and finally to Peru to be reunited with him.
“My husband has been working here one year and he has done very well, thank God, and we’ve already been through 3 and a half years of this situation (crisis) in Venezuela,” she said. “So because of this situation of having the family far away from each other, we decided that since he couldn’t return anymore, we decided that we would come to be with him.”
As he waited for his father, 9-year-old Yoandro Pernia said he was excited to see him again but couldn’t shake the sadness of leaving behind his home, extended family, and friends.
“I’m happy and sad. It’s very difficult for me to express how I am. I’m happy because at last, I’ll see my father; but I’m sad because I left many people behind,” he said.
Just minutes later, Yoandro pressed his body against his father in a deep bear hug, then wiped away tears as his father hugged and kissed each of his two younger sisters.
“It just so happens that yesterday was the one year anniversary of my being here, of having left my children in Venezuela,” said Pernia, who was all smiles. “It just so happens that was yesterday. And today, one year and one day later, I am welcoming them here,” said Pernia, before escorting the family out of the bus station and through Lima, where they will make their new home.
The Pernias are just some of the Venezuelan migrants making the week-long arduous trip to Peru in an effort to arrive ahead of the August 25 deadline in which Peru will require passports for entry.
Many of those on the bus were being reunited with loved ones who had previously settled in Peru as millions have left Venezuela over the past year, settling across Latin America.
Mauricio Aparicio who works at the Marco Polo bus station said he sends money back home to help his father, who is battling stomach cancer.
Peru estimates that more than 20,000 Venezuelans could arrive in the country before the August 25 deadline. More than 400,000 Venezuelans have entered Peru in the last two years.
Previously, Peru had allowed Venezuelans to enter without passports but, as the increasing numbers of fleeing Venezuelans put pressure on local services, Lima introduced the new measure that requires all Venezuelans to hold passports.
The ballooning exodus has inundated border towns and flooded some Latin American job markets with low-skilled Venezuelans desperate for work in order to send money back to their convulsed homeland. — Reuters