“Venezuela had everything,” Ms. Domínguez said. “But we have to move on.”
Ms. Domínguez, from Margarita Island on Venezuela’s northern Caribbean coast, was able to save enough to pay for her passport and bus tickets, though many Venezuelans are not so lucky.
Without passports or the right to work, thousands of Venezuelans in Cúcuta who held down decent jobs back home are now begging for food and change. When work is available, often in construction or reselling contraband candy at traffic signals, pay is low.
A good day brings in 15,000 Colombian pesos, or about $5, which goes to food, water and paying to use bathrooms in cafes. There is seldom anything left over.
“I sold my hair to feed my girl,” Ms. Hernández said, pulling back her locks to reveal a shaved head underneath, adding that wigmakers now walk the plazas of Cúcuta where many Venezuelans congregate, wearing signs advertising that they give cash for hair.
The going rate in the border town for women’s hair is 30,000 pesos, or about $10, less than a third of the price in Bogotá, the capital.