Things That Matter

As Venezuelan Migrants Flee To Nearby Colombia, A Tech Startup With Japanese Investment Has Become Their Lifeline

rappicolombia / Instagram

More than 3.4 million Venezuelans have fled their country in the past few years amid a collapsing economy and political turmoil. Many have migrated to nearby Colombia where more than 1.2 million Venezuelans are now living and those numbers could balloon to 2 million by this year’s end. This has created new challenges as well as growth, particularly when it comes to Rappi, the country’s tech-driven delivery service.

The delivery service, Rappi, has seen rapid growth in the last year, mainly propelled by Venezuelan migrants looking to get by.

The app, which was founded in Colombia in 2015, has a simple purpose to that of American delivery services like Postmates, deliver goods to people from wherever they want. An injection of $1 billion from Japan’s SoftBank helped establish the South American tech startup as a viable business.

Rappi is now operating in seven countries, Colombia, Brazil, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, Peru and Uruguay and more than 40 major cities in Latin America. It also has more than 100,000 people that deliver for the service and has become one of Columbia’s fastest growing startups.

The company can credit the rising number of Venezuelan migrants that have begun delivering for the service as a way to make ends meet. Many of them have been shut out of the traditional job market and can make about $23 dollars a day, roughly three times Colombia’s minimum wage.

Amid a failing economy and political turmoil, Venezuelans have the delivery service as a lifeline.

While Venezuela faces hyperinflation and food and medicine shortages, many are left with little to no choice but to leave their country. As these large number of migrants have relocated to Columbia, the first thing they do is seek jobs.

Migrants receive a temporary work permit, known as the PEP (Politically Exposed Persons). But that permit has come with a label. Wilander Jiménez, a 28-year-old from the city of Lara in Venezuela, has struggled to find work even with this permit. He arrived in Colombia almost a year ago and Rappi has become a primary source of income for him.

“People won’t hire you here if you’re Venezuelan, even if you have the PEP,” Jiménez told the Miami Herald. “So Rappi has become a solution for many of us.”

The company has acknowledged what their service has meant to many Venezuelans looking for opportunities.

Credit: rappicolombia / Instagram

Sebastián Mejía, Simon Borrero and Felipe Villamarin are all co-founders of Rappi. They’ve noticed the rise in Venezuelans that have taken up their delivery service as a safety net for cash and to get by during hard times.

“From day zero at Rappi we’ve always had a social mission,” Mejía told the Miami Herald. “So we are very excited that Rappi has not only become a source of income for vulnerable communities — like Venezuelan migrants, who are the face of a dramatic humanitarian crisis — but has also given them the ability to send money home.”

The company says it doesn’t know exactly how many Venezuelans work for Rappi because of its rapid growth. In 2018, the service had 20,000 deliverymen, according to media reports, that number has grown to four times as many.

While Rappi has created a stop-gap for some Venezuelans, many realize it’s filling a temporary need during their hard times.

Credit: rappicolombia / Instagram

Beyond just Columbia, many Venezuelans have relocated to other places in Latin America like Peru, Argentina, and Chile.

As hard times continue to hit Venezuela the number of people searching for new opportunities elsewhere is likely to continue. This includes Jiménez, who was a former policeman back in Venezuela. He acknowledges he’ll never get rich delivering for Rappi but it helps him get by for now.

“All of us want to go home some day when things improve there,” Jiménez said. “But this is one of the few opportunities we have now to survive…Rappi is growing because of us Venezuelans.”

READ: The Crisis In Venezuela Is Worsening. Here’s What You Should Know Right Now

Parade Attendees In Medellín Watched In Horror As Two Airmen Plummeted To Their Deaths During A Stunt

Things That Matter

Parade Attendees In Medellín Watched In Horror As Two Airmen Plummeted To Their Deaths During A Stunt

Aerial shows are something people around the world enjoy. Some people make full weekends out of these events that are typically tied to some kind of patriotic holiday or community event. However, an aerial show in Colombia this weekend showed the danger of participating in this kind of event. The terrifying and heartbreaking moment was captured on camera and the video is as scary and heartwrenching as it sounds. Two airmen were hanging on a Colombian flag suspended from a helicopter as it flew over a parade when the unthinkable happened. Without warning, the rope holding the flag snaps sending the two airmen plummeting to the ground in front of spectators.

On Sunday, two Colombian airmen died while attempting to do a stunt in the sky during a public gathering.

Credit: YouTube

According to several outlets, the men were performing a stunt at the Medellin Flower Fair in Colombia. The trick, which at first began very beautiful, included a cable hanging from a helicopter. The men were also attached to this same cable along with the Colombia flag. It looked almost like a patriotic parade in the sky, but then things went horribly wrong.

The video shows the cable somehow snapped off of the helicopter and the two men plunged to their death.

Credit: YouTube

It remains unclear how this tragic accident occurred. According to the Sun, an Air Force spokesperson said, “The reasons behind this painful accident are still being investigated by the authorities.” The event also happened near the Olaya Herrera Airport, which as a result of the accident had to be closed.

The men were identified as Jesus Mosquera and Sebastian Gamboa Ricaurte who were based in Rionegro in Antioquia. The shocking death has left a community mourning and searching for answers on how this could have happened.

The video has been shared far and wide on social media. 

Credit: @ErikaJournal / Twitter

“Horrific,” one person said. “Sad, as I don’t understand the need for stunts like this. Awful way to go.” “There should have been the strictest safety protocols in place, no doubt there were none… RIP,” another said. “I never liked stunts like that. It’s just not worth it,” another said. And we agree with that sentiment exactly. Yes, ideally, a stunt like this would have been stunning, and it truly began that way, but something is quite off about how this trick went off. 

According to the Daily Mail, Defence Minister Guillermo Botero, “I have instructed the Force commanders that aerial exercises such as today be suspended until the causes of the incident in Medellín are fully known,” and added, “My solidarity with their families, friends, and institution.”

Here’s the video, but please beware that it is painful to watch.

After analyzing the video, it almost appears as if something flew right across the cable, which caused it to break away from the helicopter completely. Other’s on social media agree. “Pretty sure I saw something fly into the cable there??” someone commented. 

It almost looks like a bird, but it’s hard to tell because of the quality of the video and because it moves so fast. 

Jorge Hugo Duarte, an Olaya Herrera airport manager, offered up his theory in the Spanish news outlet Ensegundos, that “One of the Air Force helicopters coming to the airport to land with two military men hanging holding the Colombian flag, this rope apparently burst from the aircraft and the two military men fell into the airport. Both military men died.” 

But the video shows it didn’t just burst, something flew directly into it causing it to break. 

Further inspection of the video shows that another helicopter was also carrying two other men with another flag.

 Credit: YouTube

It is unclear if the other stuntmen were injured or involved in the cause of the accident, but according to the video it seemed like they were far behind them. 

The helicopters were performing as part of the Medellín Flower Fair.

Credit: kakabanetadecoco / Instagram

According to The Sun, the festival “began in 1963 and includes pageants, parades of cars and horses, and musical concerts.” 

The air show had only last ten-minutes before the cable broke. In the previous years, the Festival of Flowers has included the use of helicopters as part of the show. One year rose petals were dropped from helicopters as a tribute to the men and women who maintain the annual tradition. 

READ: A Tragic Accident Left Two Teenage Daughters Without Parents While Vacationing In Turks And Caicos

Central Americans Flee Their Countries Because Of Violence But Also Because They Have No Water

Things That Matter

Central Americans Flee Their Countries Because Of Violence But Also Because They Have No Water

The migration from Central America to the North isn’t as simple as people seeking out the American Dream. That is a beautiful fantasy, after all, but it’s not the whole truth. The reason people from El Salvador, Honduras, and Guatemala are leaving their country is because of the violence, and it’s also about so much more. It’s a matter of life and death. While murderers are responsible for countless senseless deaths, others are fleeing because of limited resources, and lack of necessary essentials.

Some Salvadorans, especially from poor communities, are fleeing their country because there’s a significant water shortage.

Credit: @m_painter / Twitter

The water crisis in El Salvador isn’t something that just happened overnight. Researchers and organizations have been warning about this catastrophe in El Salvador for decades. The Salvadoran Humanitarian Aid, Research and Education Foundation (SHARE) group documented back in 2007 that impoverished communities demanded water rights in their areas. Most, if not all, of the main water, was going to private companies and being used by the top of society. The most impoverished people in El Salvador, which is a significant group, were being left with nothing. Now, a new study shows that there’s a deadline to the last drop. 

New research shows that the entire country of El Salvador will be unhabitable in 80 years if the water crisis is not rectified.

Credit: @nicadispatch / Twitter

The Defensa de Los Derechos Humanos (PDDH) released a study that showed the dire numbers which led to the government of El Salvador to declare a national emergency.    

“According to the scientific analyzes carried out by different international organizations and analyzed in the present study, if we continue in this logic of deterioration, degradation of water goods in El Salvador, in 80 years life will be unfeasible in the country,” David Morales, head of the PDDH, said, according to EFE. 

The water crisis seems to be the result of two factors: climate change and the privatization of water. 

Credit: @brockaletti / Twitter

The National Geographic reports that after two major natural disasters, El Salvador struggled to recover. In 2014, the country suffered an exceptional drought which left “96,000 Salvadoran families without adequate food,” and millions more going hungry. The following year, El Niño brought even more dry weather. 

“If we want to confront climate change, we first need to have strong governance,” Helga Cuéllar-Marchelli, director of the department of social studies at the Salvadoran Foundation for Economic and Social Development (FUSADES) told the National Geographic. “We need a joint effort from the central government, municipal governments, civil society, [and] the business sector. If there is no legal framework, it will be very difficult to coordinate efforts.”

The water crisis is forcing members of poor communities to walk for miles to get water from wells only to find there might not be any there for them.

Credit: @ProfRPalacios / Twitter

The “natural” water that is available for poor people isn’t safe to use because it’s contaminated, but because they have no other choice, they use it anyway. 

The publication reports that sewer water that carries intense contamination levels goes straight into natural water, including streams and rivers. It is this water that people use to drink, wash their clothes and bathe. More than 90 percent of this natural water is toxic, and an estimated 6.4 million people are using this contaminated water. 

Early this year, people from El Salvador marched for water rights and people on social media used the hashtag #NoAlaPrivatizacionDelAgua.

Credit: @danalvarenga / Twitter

The protest, led by students, feminists, and advocates of water rights, were also met with pushback from police forces. 

The World Bank reports that local farmers and people trying to survive with their own crops are the ones that are facing this major crisis. Salvadorans aren’t the only ones affected either, but neighboring countries as well. 

“More than half a million families are suffering from what experts call ‘food insecurity,’ – in other words, the lack of food – due to agricultural and livestock losses. According to estimates by Central American governments, Oxfam and other international aid agencies, 236,000 families in Guatemala, 120,000 in Honduras, 100,000 in Nicaragua and 96,000 in El Salvador are already facing this situation.”

Jess Ofelia Alvarenga, an independent reporter, documented how her family, is dealing with the water crisis in El Salvador.

This summer she filmed the struggle her uncle faces with the lack of water. She says he can no longer harvest rice or watermelons. It is this lack of water that is forcing thousands to move to El Salvador’s metropolitan areas, which already has a scarcity of water for the low-income, or flee the country altogether. 

READ: El Salvador’s New President Represents A Change In The Country’s Political System

Paid Promoted Stories