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Thousands of Venezuelans walk to Colombia each day for a free meal

VENEZUELA,FOOD SHORTAGE
Luis Acosta | AFP
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As the economy verges on collapse, hungry Venezuelans cross the border

As Venezuela’s economy edges toward collapse, approximately 25,000 men, women and children cross the border into Colombia each day in search of food, according to an Associated Press report.

“I never thought I’d say this,” said Erick Oropeza, 29, a former worker with Venezuela’s Ministry of Education who walks across a bridge for a free plate of food each morning. “But I’m more grateful for what Colombia has offered me in this short time than what I ever received from Venezuela my entire life.”

Each day churches and nonprofits in Colombia prepare to feed lunch to the hungry Venezuelans who cross the border for what might be their only meal of the day.

As the autocratic government of President Nicolás Maduro cracks down on protesters, Venezuela’s economy continues its nosedive. In the last week the crisis has intensified, the currency has fluctuated wildly, and the price of food has doubled, according to a Washington Post report. A recent survey found that 75 percent of Venezuelans lost 19 pounds last year.

Jose David Canas, a priest with “Casa de Paso,” a church-run shelter in the border town of Cucuta, Colombia, told AP he will continue serving food “as long as God allows.”

“Until they close the border,” he said. “Until everything is eaten or until the province tells us that they no longer have lunches to give out. And then it’s the end.”

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