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Venezuelan scavengers vie with vultures for Brazilian trash

Updated : April 17, 2019 01:27 PM IST

Surrounded by vultures perched on trees awaiting their turn, Venezuelan migrants scrape out a living scavenging for metal, plastic, cardboard and food in a Brazilian border town's rubbish dump.

Trapped in a wasteland limbo, they barely make enough to feed their families and cannot afford a bus ticket to get away and find regular work in Brazilian cities to the south.

They blame leftist President Nicolas Maduro for mismanaging their oil-producing nation's economy and causing the deep crisis that has driven several million Venezuelans to emigrate across Latin America.

Tens of thousands of Venezuelans have fled the political and economic upheaval in their country through Pacaraima, the only road crossing to Brazil, overloading social services and causing tension in the northern border state of Roraima. More than 40,000 Venezuelans have swollen the population of state capital Boa Vista by 11 percent, Mayor Tereza Surita told Reuters.

The influx has also been a headache for Brazil's new, far-right government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who has so far resisted US pressure to take a more forceful attitude against Maduro. About 3.7 million people have left Venezuela in recent years, mostly via its western neighbour Colombia, according to the World Bank.

A dozen Venezuelans scramble to grab bags of rubbish that tumble from the Pacaraima trash truck twice a day. They then sift through the piles as fetid plumes of smoke rise from the smouldering landfill. Sometimes they scavenge at night using headlamps.

Venezuelan migrants hang from a truck at the garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan migrants hang from a truck at the garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Euclide Mata holds a sweater after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Euclide Mata holds a sweater after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Luis Ortega holds a bag of cans after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Luis Ortega holds a bag of cans after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Frelvi Arteaga holds a pair of sandals after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Frelvi Arteaga holds a pair of sandals after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan migrants wait while the rubbish truck unloads at the garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan migrants wait while the rubbish truck unloads at the garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Charles Sanchez holds a pair of shoes after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Charles Sanchez holds a pair of shoes after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Antony Calzadilla is seen at a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Antony Calzadilla is seen at a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Astrid Prado, who is 8 months pregnant, is seen at a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Astrid Prado, who is 8 months pregnant, is seen at a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Antony Calzadilla is seen at a garbage dump as his child waits for him, in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Antony Calzadilla is seen at a garbage dump as his child waits for him, in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Oriana Padilla holds a bag of cans after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
Venezuelan Oriana Padilla holds a bag of cans after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 15, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
A Venezuelan man holds pillows after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
A Venezuelan man holds pillows after scraping on a garbage dump in the border city of Pacaraima, Brazil April 13, 2019. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares
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