Venezuelan photographer and Magnum Foundation fellow Fabiola Ferrero has been photographing the journeys and struggles of Venezuelan refugees in Colombia for several years. Her images accompany an article in TIME magazine that sheds light on the massive migration of more than 5 million people since 2015, and the recent decision by Colombian President Iván Duque to welcome Venezuelans and grant them “temporary protected status (TPS) [allowing] a migrant to live as native, with an ID card, health coverage and social security for at least 10 years.”
For the first few miles, the emptying of Venezuela is a visible thing.
Crossing the border from their benighted native land, refugees trudge uphill into the next country, Colombia, carrying what they have. “There are certain roads where you can see them,” says Fabiola Ferrero, who has spent years photographing what Colombians call los caminantes, “the walkers.” A motorist might pass hundreds on the highway to Pamplona, a city on the Colombian side of the border. “And then they disperse to the rest of the country,” Ferrero says, of an exodus so steady and absent geopolitical drama it has largely escaped the rest of the world’s attention.
Yet 5.5 million people have poured out of Venezuela since 2015, almost as many as the 6.6 million people who have fled Syria over the course of a decade. Almost all arrive hungry. Venezuela has collapsed not as a result of war, but under a failed economy run by the incompetent yet tenacious regime of President Nicolás Maduro. The country has both the world’s largest oil reserves and a third of its population facing hunger.