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Venezuelan women in Colombia are being driven into prostitution to survive, as the country's citizens continue to flee political repression and economic crisis at home. In one brothel of 60 women, 58 were from Venezuela and just two were from Colombia. One woman, a mother of two who was a ballerina and businesswoman in her home country, told Sky News, "I would give this up if there was any other option. This is a shameful job, but what option do I have?
The only way to put food on the table for my children is to travel here to Colombia and sell my body. Another woman, the mother of a 1-year-old, said she was a hairdresser before the deepening crisis forced her to flee across the border in search of new opportunities. I do this because I have to do this. I don't do drugs, I don't drink. I just do this. If I could do something better, I'd do it… and I'd stop this straight away. Their illegal status in Colombia makes it even harder for the women to find secure and safe employment.
As such, they are pushed into the risky and unstable sex trade. The Sky News investigation also discovered smugglers operating across the border, ferrying contraband to Colombia, where it can be sold at a much higher value, given the crashing Venezuelan currency. At least 2. Most have found their way to Colombia or Brazil, with others traveling as far as Ecuador, Peru and the United States in search of a better life.
The influx of refugees is causing tensions with neighboring nations. In Brazil, soldiers have been deployed to protect refugee camps after one was torched by angry locals earlier this week. Colombia sent extra security forces to its borders to help deal with the flood of new arrivals. Meanwhile, the situation in Venezuela is getting worse. In launching the "sovereign bolivar," the government knocked five zeroes off the value of the old notes, reducing inflation by 90 percent.
But citizens struggled to get their hands on the new money, with some residents in Caracas, the capital, reporting a cap of 10 sovereign bolivars per day at cash machines. Unsure of what to charge customers, many businesses closed their doors on Tuesday.