Cucuta:Safety

I would like to know anyone’s opinion on safety in cucuta. I am an American (47) and trying to meet a venezueian lady friend who will be crossing.
Suggestions for accommodations, safety, etc?

Thanks!

Dear Tim,

Welcome to the Colombia forums of expat.com ...

About the situation at the Colombia-Venezuela border town of Cúcuta, Colombia ...

I'm down here at the other Colombia border, the one with Ecuador, and was down at the border getting car and personal permiso extensions Friday night.

This border area is still swamped with Venezuelans who have traveled through Colombia en route to Ecuador and points South .. and who line up by the hundreds seeking permission to get past the Rumichaca border.

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1.  Staying in or near Cúcuta, I recommend staying in a place not too close to the border itself.  The Venezuelans here seem peaceful, but many could be desperate, fleeing their home country and possibly lost in border areas they don't know .. many likely being destitute or close to it.

2.  Don't get into private vehicles.  Use taxis and buses.

3.  Don't accept food, beverage or flyers from street people, refugees or other strangers.

cccmedia in Ipiales, Nariño, Colombia,
    two miles from the Colombia-Ecuador border

And recognize that a certain measure of paranoia is indicative of your willingness to confront reality......

I'm not sure if this is too late. I'm from Georgia in the States and I've been to Cucuta twice in the last year. I am Hispanic, but the moment I speak, the fact that I'm American is given right away. Cucuta might not be the safest of places, but as long as you keep to yourself and don't shout you're American you should be fine. There are places you shouldn't go, in particular el Barrio Contento (where I have family). La Ceibas II and the center of the city (where the mall and McDonald's is) are generally pretty safe. I would walk around with my cell phone out and everything for weeks on end (people advised against it). Do not take taxis off the street, use Uber if you can. I wouldn't advise for public transportation either. The homicide rate is similar to that of Memphis or Birmingham (Alabama), so the danger of the city is definitely overstated. I was paranoid at first, but you get accustomed to the city pretty quick and realize it's not that dangerous. However, this is me as someone who looks Hispanic, I honestly don't know how it would be if you're blonde with blue eyes. There were Mormon missionaries that were clearly American and they didn't seem too scared. Hopefully this helps.

Georgian21 :

as long as you keep to yourself and don't shout you're American you should be fine. There are places you shouldn't go, in particular el Barrio Contento (where I have family). La Ceibas II and the center of the city....

The homicide rate is similar to that of Memphis or Birmingham (Alabama), so the danger of the city is definitely overstated.

Colombia has a brand-new administration that has not yet decided whether to close its border to Venezuelans without passports .. as other countries are doing.

This past week, Ecuador and Peru decided to block Venezuelans without passports (which is most of them) from entering those two countries.

As a result, all bets are off from what had been the status quo in Colombian localities near the Ven border.

The upshot is that, at least for now, most Venezuelans escaping their country to the South are stuck in Colombia.  With Cúcuta being the first big city many refugees encounter, the historical rates for homicide or other crimes in Cúcuta are not predictive of what may be happening there this year.

I respectfully disagree with any poster on this forum who may seem to be encouraging folks in Colombia to visit or stay in Cúcuta at this time.

The situation for the Venezuelans is in flux due to these border restrictions.  Many Venezuelans are desperate.  If they have any Venezuelan money, it's practically worthless due to hyper-inflation.  Ecuador has a month-long state of emergency in effect because of the high number of Venezuelans living in unsanitary conditions along the Ecuador-Colombia border.

If you don't need to go to Cúcuta, you should stay away until the situation improves.  That may not be anytime soon.

cccmedia

On Sunday, after a merchant was stabbed and robbed just across the Venezuela-Brazil border, allegedly by Venezuelans, angry Brazilians chased Venezuelans out of their makeshift housing .. and burned and bulldozed their belongings.

On Monday (today, August 20, 2018) Venezuelan currency is scheduled to shed five zeros.  The Ven government says the new currency will be backed by the petro, a cryptocurrency based on Venezuelan oil that critics call a sham.

Can something like what occurred this weekend in Brazil happen in or around Cúcuta, Colombia, sometime soon?  Who knows?

Will Venezuelan currency -- "spiraling toward 1,000,000 percent", yes, one million, according to the Washington Post -- allow merchants to even stay open past this week?  Who knows?  The Post quotes leading Venezuelan merchants who have strong doubts about this for their own businesses.

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As long as the Colombia-Venezuela border remains open, the border situation is combustible .. and could become moreso, given recent developments described on this thread.

News source for this post:  The Washington Post, Sunday, Aug. 19

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