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‘Flee as Fast as You Can.’ A Young Couple Joins Venezuela’s Exodus.


‘Flee as Fast as You Can.’ A Young Couple Joins Venezuela’s Exodus.

CARACAS, Venezuela—Jonathan Morales and Daliana Loyo were ready to leave. Mr. Morales, a 26-year-old chef, had hidden his life savings of $150 inside the waistband of his underwear. Ms. Loyo, a 23-year-old nurse, had a grilled eggplant for the trip, packed up by her grandmother. All they carried was two backpacks and a borrowed suitcase.

Two dozen members of their families had already abandoned Venezuela. Their remaining relatives—only the very old, who could no longer travel—came to see them off that June day. They took group photos and cracked jokes to ease their sadness.

Visas to Chile in hand, the young couple took their seats on a bus to the Colombian border. Many of their fellow passengers, who also hoped to leave for good, were traveling without documents. A 22-hour ride stretched in front of them.

Minutes after the bus departed, a man stood up, saying he was from the transportation company. He warned everyone that soldiers tend to board along the route and extort riders. He urged riders to scatter their money and valuables inside their clothes and luggage. He advised some to pretend to be mute.

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