Hey News-Junkies! Have I got a documentary for you: Juliana Peñaranda-Loftus’ documentary short, The Crossing. The action takes place in her hometown of Cúcuta, Colombia, which has become the center of international news in the last few years. No one had ever heard of Cúcuta until the collapse of the Venezuelan economy. The small town is located on the other side of a small bridge connecting Colombia and Venezuela. In 2015, more than four million Venezuelans were forced to leave their homes to avoid the repercussions of the collapse, which created a humanitarian crisis in the process.
Living temporarily in America, director Peñaranda-Loftus returned to Cúcuta to document the impact these recent events had on the town. Throughout the film, she reports on the sizable refugee camp living in the city’s streets and the massive imbalance as 70% of its inhabitants are from Venezuela. The Crossing centers on the delivery of international humanitarian aid to those still living in the country and President Maduro’s efforts to stop the aid from being distributed.
“…more than four million Venezuelans were forced to leave their homes…”
Billionaire Richard Branson would organize a concert to raise money for the refugees. Millions of Venezuelans would also be inspired to cross the bridge back into their country, including recently elected President Juan Guido (who has yet to take power). So what happens when hundreds of thousands of unarmed humanitarians and protesters meet up against an armed military force? I’ll give you one guess.
Peñaranda-Loftus also explores the impact the refugees are having on the local economy of Cúcuta. Economically, the refugees’ Venezuelan currency is worthless, jobs are scarce, and the city’s resources are being pushed to their limits. There are two bright spots, though. One is that the co-existence between the two cultures has been relatively peaceful up to this point. Columbians understand why they are there. There is also the collective hope of the Venezuelan people to one day return to their country.
The Crossing is not only informative about events occurring thousands of miles away, but it is also a thrilling story played out in real life. Juliana Peñaranda-Loftus effectively takes us directly to the streets and in the middle of the crisis. Do you ever get the sense that the world is treating the symptom while ignoring the bigger issues? Maybe our problems here in the States are relatively small, and we should never turn a blind eye to what is happening to good people across the world.
"…not only informative...but it is also a thrilling story played out in real life."