A story of the Venezuelan crisis
and the small border city willing to help.
When desperate refugees fleeing crisis in Venezuela are welcomed by a small Colombian border city, a political fire-storm erupts. A moving portrait of conflict, suffering, generosity and the power of the human spirit.
“The Crossing” story is very close to my heart as it takes place in my hometown of Cúcuta, Colombia. Cúcuta is a small city that sits on the border of Venezuela. Today, it is at the center of the Venezuelan refugee crisis.
Growing up on the border allowed me to get the best of the two countries. My best childhood memories in the 80’s are tied to Venezuela. My parents always found an excuse to take us there and have a great time as a family. We could cross the border easily, as it was only 15 minutes away from home. I grew up seeing Venezuelans as brothers and sisters.
In 1998, I decided to move to the United States to pursue my dream career in film. From there, along with the rest of the world, I watched as Venezuela slowly descended into chaos. My Venezuelan friends and their families were in panic. Those that could, sold their properties and fled the country. Those couldn’t, stayed to face an uncertain future. Others that had voted for Chavez were excited about the possibility of social change. Under Chavez and then Maduro, one of the strongest and most stable democracies in Latin American slowly became a sort of dictatorship.
Since 2015, more than four million Venezuelans have left to avoid economic collapse and humanitarian distress. Cúcuta quickly became a critical escape point for desperate refugees. Many of the Venezuelans that flee do so via the Simon Bolivar bridge that connects our two countries. Their journey on foot can last more than 300 miles.
In February 2019, people from all over the world met in Cúcuta in an attempt to deliver humanitarian aid into Venezuela. I knew I had to be there. I wasn’t prepared to travel, but I felt I had the moral responsibility to tell this story. In two days, I assembled a crew and flew to Cúcuta. I was excited to deliver aid to my dear Venezuelan neighbors; I never expected the chaos that would ensue.
This story is very time sensitive and that is why we are moving to release it as quickly as possible. “The Crossing" is a film that inspires solidarity and generosity between countries, it is a story of brotherhood between citizens of different nations. This is the biggest refugee crisis in Latin American history and I am committed to get my documentary to audiences to ensure that this issue remains at the top of the international human rights agenda.