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IPIALES, Colombia (Reuters) – Tears welled up in Gabriel Malavolta’s eyes on Saturday as he realized his dream of a new life in Peru was over, at least for now.
The 50-year-old mechanic fled Venezuela three days ago. He had hoped to make the overland crossing into Ecuador and then on to Lima, saying the deepening economic crisis in his homeland had left him without the basic means of survival.
Bus - Fiance - Yenny - Border - Town
Traveling by bus with his fiance Yenny to the border town of Ipiales in southwest Colombia, Malavolta said he heard on the final leg of the trip that their plan had been ruined.
As of 12 a.m. on Saturday, new regulations put in place by Ecuadorian President Lenin Moreno prohibit Venezuelans from entering Ecuador without a valid passport. Previously, they could enter with no other document than their national ID cards.
Malavolta - Passport - Fiancee - ID - Card
Malavolta has a passport, but his fiancee only has an ID card. They arrived at the Rumichaca border crossing outside Ipiales just six hours after the new regulation took effect.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do, but we can’t go back. I’m not sending my fiancee to go back and go hungry,” he said as he sat in a Red Cross tent in Ipiales.
Idea - Families - Trash - Situation - Home
“You’ve no idea what it’s like, whole families eat from the trash,” he said of the desperate situation back home.
More than a million Venezuelan migrants have entered Colombia over the last 15 months, according to official estimates, but Ecuador has also received many refugees until now.
Venezuelans - Border - Saturday - Malavolta - Fiancee
About 300 Venezuelans were lined up at the border crossing early on Saturday. Like Malavolta’s fiancee, many indicated they had no passports to gain entry to Ecuador.
Peru’s government announced immigration measures similar to Ecuador’s on Friday, with passport requirements for Venezuelans beginning on Aug. 25.
Ipiales - Venezuelan - Mirgrants
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