Colombia’s Maicao Switches From Smuggling Gasoline to Trocheros (Coyotes)

Maicao, a border Colombian town with the Venezuelan Guajira, was recognized for being one of the main markets for smuggling Venezuelan fuel into Colombian territory. Today the “business culture” changed. In the middle of a pandemic, the focus is on Venezuelans going through the so-called illegal trails or “trochas”, with the sole purpose of evading the sanitary regulations imposed by the Venezuelan government in order to stop the coronavirus pandemic.

The sanitary cordon that executes the plan established by the Venezuelan Armed Forces is circumvented daily by the so-called trocheros (coyotes), who charge up to $200 to fellow nationals along the way who can be swindled, as corroborated during a tour carried out on the border by the Telesur reporter Madeleine García.

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The reporter’s work highlights that motorized trocheros choose the route. “Our compatriots are the ones paying and paying.” Five young Venezuelans from Barranquilla made a stop to transfer. When questioned by the reporter about the evasion of legal routes to avoid going through the Comprehensive Health Assistance Check points where they must subsequently remain for 14 days due to quarantine, the compatriots do not flinch, and ignore the reporter. They say that it is the motorized ones that choose the route.

“Look closely, on motorcycles they carry even pit bull dogs as they move, many do not reach their final destination, they are robbed and swindled. They can be stopped at the check points. They spend up to $200 on the journey, these motorized ones only charge 10 and risk Covid,” reads one of García’s posts .

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“Guana is the last town in the Guajira Venezolana that borders Colombia on the side of Divine Child that leads to Maicao. 75 families are at risk because of the illegal entry of Venezuelan compatriots. They attribute not having Covid-19 to traditional Wayuü medicines,” says another post.

“Colombia has not done its part, for the Colombian authorities it is normal that they pass through here. The same Venezuelan government has labeled them as bioterrorists (the trocheros), the motorized (taxis) have been the most affected,” says the inhabitant of the region who was interviewed by García, who assures that the motorized do this work because the need for income prevails and they take risks.

The government of Venezuela estimates that at least 4,000 Venezuelans have entered their country as these young people we are showing and were infected.

Featured image: Motorized trocheros prepare to leave. Photo courtesy of @madeleintlSUR

(Ultimas Noticias)

Translation: OT/JRE/EF