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Venezuela

Venezuelan Crisis Deepens Troubles Along Colombia's Border

Venezuelans last month arriving near the border with Colombia.
Venezuelans last month arriving near the border with Colombia.

-Editorial-

BOGOTÁ — As the world recently watched humanitarian supply trucks burn on a bridge between the Colombian town of Cúcuta and the Venezuelan border, locals anxiously wondered if aid would ever arrive in a region plagued with years of economic crisis.

Colombian Attorney General Fernando Carrillo echoed these sentiments after visiting Cúcuta and meeting with organizations working in the Catatumbo area of the Colombian border region of Norte de Santander. He told the local daily La Opinión that Norte de Santander needs "an emergency plan to face this avalanche, which will have humanitarian consequences... the national government must become more involved in resolving the social and economic problems that are just starting to be visible in this zone."

And yet, the situation is not new. Norte de Santander, like all border areas, has suffered since relations with Venezuela began to fracture and the country's economy entered into crisis. The government of Colombia's former president Álvaro Uribe issued social emergency decrees last decade as a bid to remedy the situation, yet they were palliative at best and did not address the background causes.

The situation is deteriorating by the day.

Norte de Santander has serious problems with black market employment (70.6% of people in Cúcuta work informally— the highest rate among mid-sized and larger cities), organized crime, drug trafficking, guerrillas (the Marxist ELN and EPL), corruption and high rates of petty crime.

When discussing efforts to help rebuild Venezuela, the Colombian government and parliament would do well to first start rebuilding our country's border regions. Local economies based on decades of co-dependence between Venezuela and Colombia cannot be rebooted with sporadic investments. Carrillo is right to call for an in-depth analysis of "the region's future in the face of so many social and economic threats affecting its stability." This cannot just be done by local politicians repeatedly stating their concerns about systematic neglect from the central government.

Norte de Santander is a crucial area in the post-conflict period of our country, but so far the state has failed to curtail violence in Catatumbo. It is also a key zone for integrating Venezuelan migrants, many of whom have settled in districts and villages where the employment levels are already precarious. The situation is deteriorating by the day with no solutions in sight. The crisis across the border is shining a light on a part of Colombia that can no longer be left to slip out of control.

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Society

Parenthood And The Pressure Of Always Having To Be Doing Better

As a father myself, I'm now better able to understand the pressures my own dad faced. It's helped me face my own internal demands to constantly be more productive and do better.

Photo of a father with a son on his shoulders

Father and son in the streets of Madrid, Spain

Ignacio Pereyra*

-Essay-

When I was a child — I must have been around eight or so — whenever we headed with my mom and grandma to my aunt's country house in Don Torcuato, outside of Buenos Aires, there was the joy of summer plans. Spending the day outdoors, playing soccer in the field, being in the swimming pool and eating delicious food.

But when I focus on the moment, something like a painful thorn appears in the background: from the back window of the car I see my dad standing on the sidewalk waving us goodbye. Sometimes he would stay at home. “I have to work” was the line he used.

Maybe one of my older siblings would also stay behind with him, but I'm sure there were no children left around because we were all enthusiastic about going to my aunt’s. For a long time in his life, for my old man, those summer days must have been the closest he came to being alone, in silence (which he liked so much) and in calm, considering that he was the father of seven. But I can only see this and say it out loud today.

Over the years, the scene repeated itself: the destination changed — it could be a birthday or a family reunion. The thorn was no longer invisible but began to be uncomfortable as, being older, my interpretation of the events changed. When words were absent, I started to guess what might be happening — and we know how random guessing can be.

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