Caracas, June 17, 2023 (OrinocoTribune.com)—On September 26, 2022, Venezuela and Colombia reopened their pedestrian border crossings, putting an end to seven years of border restrictions, which had been further exacerbated by former Colombian President Ivan Duque in his attempt to please the Trump administration and the failed US attempt to oust Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro. On January 1, 2023, the vehicle and cargo crossings were officially resumed, opening the doors for residents of the border regions to travel freely between Colombia and Venezuela.
This decision, agreed upon by Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and Colombian President Gustavo Petro, also provided the local travel bloggers and YouTubers an opportunity to travel through the binational border and document the official requirements needed to cross from Venezuela to Colombia and vice versa. This eventually led to more professional travel bloggers, YouTubers dedicated to road trips, and camping enthusiasts to add Venezuela to their lists of destinations.
Travel bloggers and travel YouTubers are not particularly the most ideologically driven people, and those who are ideologically driven usually lean right—pleasing. The algorithm might be a good explanation for their behavior. Even then, many new visitors documenting on YouTube the state of the roads, security issues, fuel shortages, natural wonders, tourist attractions, and the kindness of the Venezuelan people began to arrive in the country that has been afflicted by unprecedented US and European illegal sanctions and blockade for over five years.
Many of these travel bloggers are evidently Spanish speakers so their content is created in that language. Nevertheless anyone with real interest to understand the content will find ways to get most of the information using ingenuity. An easy trick is using YouTube closed caption option and set it to English.
El Camino de Juanse was one of the first motorcycle traveler and YouTube influencer to enter Venezuela by land. His channel reported a significant rise in views after crossing the border into Venezuela via the Atanasio Giraldot International Bridge, previously known as Tienditas. The Colombian YouTuber, with a very low budget, traveled a large part of Venezuela and is currently on his way back to Colombia. For three months he toured San Cristóbal, Mérida, Morrocoy National Park, Caracas, Colonia Tovar, Lecheria, Margarita island, Coro, and other places.
Juan Sebastián, the man behind the channel, is a Colombian motorcycle aficionado who became the first Colombian travel blogger to enter and travel deep into Venezuela after the border re-opening. He has shown all the natural beauties of Venezuela, as well as the welcoming nature of Venezuelans. Along his trip he has also documented the deterioration of the infrastructure after years of hardship, and the fuel shortages that after more than four years still affect many Venezuelans, especially in the countryside. Moreover, he has shown, perhaps inadvertently, how many negative myths about Venezuela can be destroyed just by showing the reality and speaking directly with the Venezuelan people.
One of the most recurrent complaints of this travel blogger was how expensive Venezuela was in comparison with Colombia, a reality that affects not only him but millions of Venezuelans since 2019 when the economy began to allow US dollar and other foreign currencies as a mechanism to deal with the hardships of the US blockade.
After Juan Sebastián’s tour, a Venezuelan couple living in Chile and traveling through South America in a Volkswagen Combi for the last three years decided to enter the country via Colombia after unsuccessfully attempting to enter via Boa Vista, on the border with Brazil in the south-east of Venezuela. In their YouTube channel Minimal Furgo, they have been showing for the last four weeks how road travel currently is in Venezuela, in addition to showing the natural beauties, advantages, and difficulties of traveling in a country under blockade like Venezuela. Their trip has been affected by more than eight weeks of worsening of fuel shortages in most parts of the country.
The Venezuelan couple was closely followed by an Argentinian couple, Carol and Santiago, of the YouTube channel Hakuna Matata Around the World, where they have documented their trip all over South America with the goal of reaching Alaska eventually. They entered Venezuela two weeks ago, and so far have been in San Cristóbal, Mérida (where they climbed the Bolívar peak), and Angel Falls in the Canaima National Park.
Another Argentinian couple on their way to Alaska, living and traveling in their car, entered Venezuela two weeks ago. They are just beginning their travels in Venezuela, and their experience can be followed in their channel Viajando Para Vivir.
There may be other travel YouTubers making their trips around Venezuela outside the scope of this article, but this is a good sample of those who are still in Venezuelan territory with quality content that will help foreigners have an idea about what it is like traveling and visiting tourist attractions in Venezuela, the state of the roads, security on the road, and fuel issues.
Before this batch of travel YouTubers, there were other influencers like Mexican bloggers Luisito Comunica and Alex Tienda who have been traveling all over the word in recent years. Other bloggers have recently documented Venezuelan reality in their own very light and “non-politicized” way. Another travel blogger worth mentioning is the Japanese Keito Homma who has been in Venezuela for the last nine months and has a prolific library of videos documenting his experience.
In addition, there are Venezuelans who have been touring the country and creating YouTube content. With very low budgets, they present the Venezuelan reality in their personal perspective as well as providing information that might be valuable for people wanting to travel Venezuela or just to have a better idea of Venezuela. In this category the work of Fernanda Torres should be mentioned, as well as that of Joseh Malon.
There are more established Venezuelan travel bloggers like Gabriel Herrera, Foginix, Dos Locos de Viaje, and Oscar Alejandro, who have been touring Venezuela and the world extensively for several years. Their content provides well-informed opinions about tourism in Venezuela, but is less related to the reality of traveling by road, and the last three are openly anti-Chavistas.
In recent years, content creators have been providing alternatives for many who have no financial resources to travel or have other limitations to visit places not only around the world but in their own countries. This trend does not completely reflect the reality of a place but does provide tools to help others form a better opinion about different countries or regions.
The easing of the diplomatic siege against Venezuela by Latin American countries, something that many analysts attribute to their oil needs, might open the door for more content creators, travel bloggers, and YouTubers to visit Venezuela and provide different perspectives about our reality. This is something particularly important in the case of Venezuela because media frames have distorted understandings and smear campaigns have created wrong perceptions of a beautiful and welcoming country – a country that has been resisting for years one of the most intense “regime change” operations led by Washington and the European Union. Let there be more road travel “invaders’ in Venezuela!
Orinoco Tribune Special by staff