- AfroLatino Travel Team
Who is Burying Venezuela's Dead? AfroColombian, Sonia Bermudez
TRIGGER WARNING: DEATH
Riohacha is the capital city of Colombia's La Guajira department on the Caribbean sea, 60 miles from bordering Venezuela. That border has become an important crossing point for individuals fleeing Venezuela. The U.N. estimate there will be 5.3 million refugees and migrants from Venezuela by 2020. Three million Venezuelans have already left their country, and a third of them have went to Colombia. Many have also died there. Retiree, Sonia Bermudez buries them.
Sonia Bermudez graduated from and worked over 45 years at Colombia's National Institute of Legal Medicine and Forensic Sciences. She now runs a local cemetery called "People Like Us," since late 2017, devoting all her time as she says "to this social work of a dignified burial," for Venezuelans and their family members who cannot afford a funeral. Bermudez has built over 35 crypts herself.
She told VICE News: “I see that everyone, even the UN, is providing help. They are worried about health care, food supply, and dealing with the migrants’ basic needs. But they’re not thinking about death. God says that we all deserve to die with dignity. So, it's very important for me that human beings have a decent burial."