Women fleeing Venezuela are being targeted for abuse amid pandemic border closures

If Gabriela Ochoa had known what would happen to her down by the Táchira River that divides Venezuela and Colombia, she never would have crossed.



a person flying a kite: Muddy paths across the Táchira river can be the only way into Colombia -- but they're far from safe.


© CNN Illustration/Getty Images
Muddy paths across the Táchira river can be the only way into Colombia — but they’re far from safe.

But her family was desperate.

The 21-year-old single mother had been struggling as Venezuela’s economy collapsed under the regime of embattled President Nicolás Maduro. In 2019, she lost her job at a fruit shop and could no longer feed her three young children, all under the age of five.

With government subsidized food growing scarcer and more expensive, Ochoa didn’t even bother seeking government aid. Instead, after a short stint living with her mother, with whom she had a troubled relationship, she set her sights on moving to Colombia, where people advised she might find work and a friend had offered to host her.



a person driving a bus: Colombian Military Police officers patrol the surroundings of the Simon Bolivar International Bridge in Cucuta, near the "trochas" -illegal trails on the border between Colombia and Venezuela- on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Schneyder MENDOZA / AFP) (Photo by SCHNEYDER MENDOZA/AFP via Getty Images)


© Schneyder Mendoza/AFP/Getty Images
Colombian Military Police officers patrol the surroundings of the Simon Bolivar International Bridge in Cucuta, near the “trochas” -illegal trails on the border between Colombia and Venezuela- on October 17, 2020. (Photo by Schneyder MENDOZA / AFP) (Photo by SCHNEYDER MENDOZA/AFP via Getty Images)

As the first Covid-19 cases started popping up at home, she traveled towards the Colombia-Venezuela border. Many Venezuelan migrants have been living in the city of Cúcuta, the closest major city on the Colombian side of the border, often in the precarious conditions of slums and temporary shelters.

Ochoa and her children made it to the border bridge in early April, after hours of hitchhiking and walking from her hometown, the coastal city of Puerto Cabello — more than 450 miles (730 km) from the border. But the Colombian government had already closed all checkpoints to avoid the spread of the novel coronavirus in mid-March.

The only option left for Ochoa to make it across to Cúcuta was to cross through one of the nearly 80 muddy, crime-ridden trochas in the Cúcuta area — informal routes across the Táchira river — controlled by criminal gangs, guerrillas and paramilitary groups, she said.



a group of people swimming in a body of water: Venezuelans attempt to cross the Tachira river in Cucuta, Colombia.


© SCHNEYDER MENDOZA/AFP via Getty Images
Venezuelans attempt to cross the Tachira river in Cucuta, Colombia.

On the first day, Ochoa said she begged people on their way to the trocha to help her cross, with no luck. That night, she slept on the street with her children, their stomachs roaring with hunger. By the end of the second day, as the sky darkened, a young man finally offered to help her, she said.

As they inched closer to the water, a group of men emerged from the bushes, their heads covered by hoodies.

“They had guns, knives, all kinds of things,” Ochoa recalled. The men grabbed her children and threatened to take them away if she didn’t pay them to cross.

“I thought they were going to kill me and the children,” she said. In tears, Ochoa told them she didn’t have any money and begged them

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India’s unprovoked fire at Pakistani wedding near border wounds 11 civilians: ISPR

Soldiers patrol the Line of Control (LoC). Geo.tv/Files

RAWALPINDI: India’s unprovoked firing, using rockets and heavy mortars, at a Pakistani wedding taking place near the Line of Control (LoC) wounded at least 11 civilians, the Pakistan Army’s media wing said Sunday.

In a statement, the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the injured civilians included “6 women and 4 children”.

“Indian Army resorted to unprovoked ceasefire violation in Khuiratta Sector along Line of Control (LOC) targeting civil population during a marriage ceremony in Jigjot village with rockets and heavy mortars,” the ISPR said.

“Deliberately targeting civil population particularly women and children reflects lack of morality, unprofessionalism and utter disregard of human rights by Indian army as well as violation of ceasefire understanding of 2003”, it added.

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India receives extreme cold weather clothing from America for troops deployed on China border

New Delhi [India], November 3 (ANI): In a major boost to India’s preparedness to take on the Chinese on the Line of Actual Control (LAC), the Indian Army has received the initial consignment of extreme cold weather clothing from the USA for its troops deployed on the China border.

“An initial lot of extreme cold weather clothing from the American defence forces have been received and are being used by our troops there,” government sources told ANI here.

The sources said that the Indian Army maintains a stock of 60,000 of these extreme cold weather clothing sets for troops deployed in entire Ladakh including both western fronts in Siachen and Eastern Ladakh sector.

This year, there was an additional requirement of around 30,000 of these sets as close to 90,000 troops are deployed in the region in view of the aggression by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) along the LAC.

The emergency acquisition of the extreme cold weather clothing will help the Indian Army troops to get through the harsh winters in the Ladakh sector.

The Indian side has deployed two additional divisions on the LAC that have been brought to the sector from plains and a mountain division which has been training for high-altitude operations for many years now.

India is getting a lot of equipment from America including a number of assault rifles for the special forces as well as the SiGSauer assault rifles for the infantry troops. (ANI)

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Chinese military to buy graphene clothing, chopper drones from pvt cos for India border – world news

China has shortlisted nearly two dozen private companies to supply advanced unmanned weaponry and graphene clothing to the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) regiments deployed along the long high-altitude border areas with India, state media reports said.

The PLA’s wish list includes “smart warm clothing made of graphene”, a revolutionary form of carbon, the discovery of which led physicists Andra Geim and Konstantine Novoselov to the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2010.

The Chinese armed forces are also looking for advanced logistics support equipment like portable solar chargers, portable oxygenators and a multifunctional dining vehicle.

The rare, and surprisingly publicised, move is an indication that China is working towards fusing its military needs with technology available in the civilian sector – an effort to leverage civilian service and logistical capabilities for military purposes amid the months-long border standoff with India in eastern Ladakh.

The private companies, some of them based in south China and specialised in drone technology, are known to manufacture vertical takeoff and landing unmanned vehicles, which can operate at high altitudes.

It is rare for the PLA to disclose the names of private companies from which it plans to procure military equipment.

It’s a sign that the world’s largest military force is expanding procurement from traditional suppliers, China’s state-owned enterprises, and buying specialised equipment from niche manufacturers.

The PLA’s Tibet Command invited 22 private “arms companies” and held meetings to review their products to be potentially used during “plateau warfare and border defence”, national broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV) and the nationalistic tabloid, Global Times reported.

“Many types of rotor-wing and fixed-wing aerial drones, including the Blowfish A2 helicopter drone developed by Zhuhai-based Ziyan UAV and the CW-25 vertical take-off and landing fixed-wing drone made by Chengdu-based JOUAV, were inspected by the PLA,” the CCTV report said.

They are specially designed for use in high elevation, low temperature regions, with the aim of conducting unmanned missions including material supply, border defense and management, “…surveillance and armed reconnaissance along the border of southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR),” the CCTV report said.

The reports didn’t specify which private Chinese company manufactures clothes made of graphene, which has been hailed as a “wonder material”.

The website, Dailytechlife.com which tracks technology and invention, says as an item of cloth, graphene can be “thermal, waterproof, and fireproof” and have other advanced technical properties not normally associated with cloth.

Beijing’s decision to look at private companies matches with its goal to merge the military and civil sectors.

“PRC’s (People’s Republic of China) long-term goal is to create an entirely self-reliant defence-industrial sector—fused with a strong civilian industrial and technology sector—that can meet the PLA’s needs for modern military capabilities,” the USA’s Defence Department said in its annual report on China’s military in September.

Calling it the “Military-Civil Fusion (MCF) Development Strategy”, the report said China is pursuing its “…MCF Development Strategy to “fuse” its economic and social development strategies with its security strategies to build an integrated national strategic system and capabilities in

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Border closure can’t keep grandparents from Canadian wedding | National News

ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick (AP) — With the border closed, a Canadian couple still found a way for their grandparents from Maine to see their waterfront wedding.

It involved a boat used for hauling lobster traps, naturally.

Alex Leckie and Lindsay Clowes were married on a wharf in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, while the bride’s grandparents and a few other relatives from Calais, Maine, watched from a boat in the St. Croix river that divides the countries. Other families and friends watched from Maine.

“It was happy and emotional and overwhelming,” Clowes said of seeing family and friends on both sides of the border.

The idea for the wedding was hatched after the couple had to cancel a summer wedding in Nova Scotia because of the closed border and travel restrictions. The St. Stephen wedding allowed families on both sides of the border to participate. Clowes grew up in Calais, Maine, and attended school in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

“To sum it up, my wife came up with the hashtag, #loveisnotcancelled,” said Chris Bernardini, whose wife, Leslie, is mother of the bride.

Bernardini and his wife, from Calais, were able to cross the border and quarantine in Canada before the wedding because both hold dual citizenships.

But it took some Maine ingenuity for other family members to be able to see the wedding. That involved using the 19-foot skiff used for hauling lobster traps that belonged to Bernardini’s father.

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Travel restrictions led a Canadian couple to hold a wedding on the border so friends and family could attend

Calais, Maine (KGO) — A Canadian couple did not let closed borders deny their friends in the United States the joy of seeing them tie the knot.

Their creative solution to the obstacle was to hold their wedding on the border.

RELATED: Coronavirus Outbreak: San Francisco International Airport brace for travelers leaving US for European travel ban

They got married on a pier in the province of New Brunswick, right across the river from Maine.

The couple invited 50 guests for an outdoor ceremony on the Canadian side. 15 other friends were able to see the action from across the river on the U.S. side.

The couples’ grandparents saw the ceremony from a boat in the water.

RELATED: Everything to know about California’s confusing coronavirus reopening plan, summer shutdown and what comes next

The border closure agreement between the U.S. and Canada was set to expire Wednesday, but was extended until at least November 21 after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed concern for the way the Unites States is handling the COVID-19 pandemic. It applies to all non-essential travel and is based on advice from public health officials.

Copyright © 2020 KGO-TV. All Rights Reserved.

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Border closure can’t keep grandparents from Canadian wedding

“It was happy and emotional and overwhelming,” Clowes said of seeing family and friends on both sides of the border.

The idea for the wedding was hatched after the couple had to cancel a summer wedding in Nova Scotia because of the closed border and travel restrictions. The St. Stephen wedding allowed families on both sides of the border to participate. Clowes grew up in Calais, Maine, and attended school in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

“To sum it up, my wife came up with the hashtag, #loveisnotcancelled,” said Chris Bernardini, whose wife, Leslie, is mother of the bride.

Bernardini and his wife, from Calais, were able to cross the border and quarantine in Canada before the wedding because both hold dual citizenships.

But it took some Maine ingenuity for other family members to be able to see the wedding. That involved using the 19-foot skiff used for hauling lobster traps that belonged to Bernardini’s father.

The bride’s grandparents, a great-aunt, and an aunt and uncle were in the boat, while other Mainers watched from shore.

For a honeymoon, the couple has purchased a camper that they’ve using for day trips in the Canadian Maritimes.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.

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Border closure can’t keep grandparents in Maine from Canadian wedding

ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick — With the border closed, a Canadian couple still found a way for their grandparents from Maine to see their waterfront wedding.

It involved a boat used for hauling lobster traps, naturally.

Alex Leckie and Lindsay Clowes were married on a wharf in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, while their grandparents and a few other relatives from Calais watched from a boat in the St. Croix river that divides the countries. Other families and friends watched from Maine.

“It was happy and emotional and overwhelming,” Clowes said of seeing family and friends on both sides of the border.

The idea for the wedding was hatched after the couple had to cancel a summer wedding in Nova Scotia because of the closed border and travel restrictions. The St. Stephen wedding allowed families on both sides of the border to participate. Clowes grew up in Calais and attended school in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

“To sum it up, my wife came up with the hashtag, #loveisnotcancelled,” said Chris Bernardini, whose wife, Leslie, is mother of the bride.

Bernardini and his wife, from Calais, were able to cross the border and quarantine in Canada before the wedding because both hold dual citizenships.

But it took some Maine ingenuity for other family members to be able to see the wedding. That involved using the 19-foot skiff used for hauling lobster traps that belonged to Bernardini’s father.

The bride’s grandparents, a great-aunt, and an aunt and uncle were in the boat, while other Mainers watched from shore.

For a honeymoon, the couple has purchased a camper that they’re using for day trips in the Canadian Maritimes.

Source Article

Read more

Border closure can’t keep grandparents from Canadian wedding

ST. STEPHEN, New Brunswick — With the border closed, a Canadian couple still found a way for their grandparents from Maine to see their waterfront wedding.

It involved a boat used for hauling lobster traps, naturally.

Alex Leckie and Lindsay Clowes were married on a wharf in St. Stephen, New Brunswick, while their grandparents and a few other relatives from Calais, Maine, watched from a boat in the St. Croix river that divides the countries. Other families and friends watched from Maine.

“It was happy and emotional and overwhelming,” Clowes said of seeing family and friends on both sides of the border.

The idea for the wedding was hatched after the couple had to cancel a summer wedding in Nova Scotia because of the closed border and travel restrictions. The St. Stephen wedding allowed families on both sides of the border to participate. Clowes grew up in Calais, Maine, and attended school in St. Stephen, New Brunswick.

“To sum it up, my wife came up with the hashtag, #loveisnotcancelled,” said Chris Bernardini, whose wife, Leslie, is mother of the bride.

Bernardini and his wife, from Calais, were able to cross the border and quarantine in Canada before the wedding because both hold dual citizenships.

But it took some Maine ingenuity for other family members to be able to see the wedding. That involved using the 19-foot skiff used for hauling lobster traps that belonged to Bernardini’s father.

The bride’s grandparents, a great-aunt, and an aunt and uncle were in the boat, while other Mainers watched from shore.

For a honeymoon, the couple has purchased a camper that they’ve using for day trips in the Canadian Maritimes.

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