MagazineMar 8, 2018
Poorer by the day, hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans have concluded that escape is their only option. With the country's currency virtually worthless and air travel beyond the reach of all but elites, buses have become Venezuela's caravans of misery, rolling day and night to its borders and returning largely empty to begin the process all over again. For nine days, a reporter and a photographer from Reuters accompanied the migrants as they headed for what they hoped were better days in Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina.
For nearly 5,000 miles, they rolled through some of South America's most spectacular landscapes, including the vertiginous Andean mountain range and the world's driest desert in Chile. But even though the Venezuelans were awed by the views whizzing by their window, their minds were mostly on the land they had left behind - and the uncertainty facing them in the lands ahead.
Federico Urquiola (2nd R), 27, a worker in a construction business who is traveling by bus from Caracas to Peru, exchanges money in Cucuta, Colombia, November 8, 2017. Federico said he struggled to get contracts for his construction business and was often paid late for work, when the money had already depreciated. He hoped his wife could join him in Peru. After crossing into Colombia the first thing the travelers had to do was to change their Venezuelan bolivar notes - Cucuta was the last point on the road where they would be accepted. The exchange operations were quite informal and very fast: a cash counting machine and a calculator on a desk. The tension among the travelers was evident - they wanted the best rate possible, but didn't have many options. CARLOS GARCIA RAWLINS/REUTERS