Thousands of Venezuelans have gathered on Peru’s northern border with Ecuador. They’re hoping to get into the country before a deadline to apply for a residency permit.
CGTN’s Dan Collyns filed this report from Lima.
A line of Venezuelans stood for hours on Peru’s northern border with Ecuador. Many had traveled thousands of miles through Colombia and Ecuador hitching rides, some on buses and others by foot.
All of those people were trying to enter the country before the end of Wednesday, in order to be eligible for a temporary residency permit.
“From the first of November, all the Venezuelans who cross into Peru will have a tourist visa with a maximum stay of 133 days,” said Francisco Rios of the Peruvian Immigration Office.
The restriction comes just weeks after actress Angelina Jolie, the U.N. special envoy for refugees, visited Peru to oversee the crisis.
Jolie spoke to Venezuelan migrants and thanked Peru’s President Martin Vizcarra for his country’s welcome. Speaking to the foreign press, Vizcarra said Peru could not continue to offer residency.
“We have something like 500,000 Venezuelans, so we have to look for the balance between our attitude of solidarity and the real possibility to give them the attention they need alongside our fellow Peruvians,” Vizcarra said. “So we can’t say the residency permit will continue indefinitely, no.”
The deadline had been set for the end of this year, but it was moved up to Wednesday to help Peru cope with the influx.
As Venezuelans race to Peru’s northern border to beat the visa deadline, many more in the capital Lima are battling with red tape to make sure they get a coveted residency permit before the lifeline disappears altogether.
The temporary residency permit allows Venezuelans to legally live, work, and study in the country.
“We are sad because if they don’t let them in, they’ll have to return to Venezuela or stay in Ecuador,” Venezuelan Migrant Miladyes Rodriguez said.
Neighboring Colombia has closed its doors, as has Ecuador. Despite some tensions, the mostly young Venezuelans have managed to find low-paying jobs in Peru.
“My experience here in Peru has been very pleasant,” Venezuelan Migrant Baker Baco said. “The people are warm, and in spite of the fact I’m not in my country, I feel very comfortable.”
As Venezuela’s oil-based economy has slumped further into hyperinflation, the U.N. said nearly 2 million Venezuelans have left since 2015.