Protest on the Edge

The battle for humanitarian aid at the Venezuela-Colombia border affected people on both sides, physically and spiritually. Anger, frustration, chaos and a glimmer of hope, this is what we saw from the field.

Photos by Gabriela Mesones Rojo

Both Venezuelans and Colombians went to the Colon Bridge when they saw the smoke and the fire from the torched humanitarian aid trucks. “It’s crazy, unexpected; your own government burning the help. It’s sad to know they’ll never stop.”

Migrants, Venezuelans who went to the concert, and protestors from across the border gathered at Colon Bridge to fight the repression from authorities blocking the humanitarian aid.

People were affected by tear gas even at the other end of the bridge.

“I was on the first humanitarian aid truck that was attacked. About 40 PNB (Venezuelan national police) officers shot us with rubber bullets and tear gas. They burnt the boxes right in front of us, stole the rest. I saw at least 12 wounded, among them were children and women.”

More than 285 wounded were reported on the conflict in the Colombian-Venezuelan border. Most were taken to the Hospital Universitario Erasmo Meoz, on the Colombian side.

“We’ve seen this government do many shitty things. But today was too much, it was too painful. He has to go, this has to be the end.”

Many underage protestors stayed until the end of the afternoon.

Strong presence from the Colombian police, who helped the wounded and organized volunteers.

Protestors and volunteers helped to recover the remaining boxes. These medicine boxes are currently in Colombia.

“We’re hopeful. The government got weaker today. The whole world is watching, and they haven’t realized it yet.”

“I don’t want to go just yet. I can still fight.”

The protesters mistakenly started a fire, when they accidentally threw a tear gas bomb to the forest and not the river.

While most frontally blamed Maduro for today’s conflict, others blamed the entire Venezuelan political sphere.

PNB officers shot tear gas, rubber bullets and fireworks across the border. An officer from the Colombian police said “We can’t believe the police could do this to their own people.”

Some protestors defended themselves with rocks and molotov coctails. Others remained peaceful: “We’re fed up with violence. It’s been enough.”

“I come from Aragua. I got here 17 weeks ago. I’m homeless, I lost everything. I just wanna go home.”