Valentine's Day a rosy opportunity for jobless Colombians

Valentine's Day is a crazy rush for Colombia, one of the biggest flower exporters in the world, resulting in huge demand for labor in greenhouses near Bogota.

That's how Rubiela Mendez and William Perez found themselves shivering in a cold they'd never known, preparing roses in a hangar 500 kilometers (300 miles) from their hometown of Cucuta, on the jungle-steamy eastern border with Venezuela.

They are among hundreds of Colombians and Venezuelans brought in on buses -- a 12-hour trip over not-so-great roads -- to ready the fragrant flowers for shipment to the US.

Although Colombia has a nationwide unemployment rate of 10 percent, joblessness in Cucuta is significantly higher, reaching 16% last year.

Mendez said the situation has worsened in past months with Venezuelans who are fleeing economic despair in the country coming over the border to work for half the rate paid to Colombians in the town.

Read more at New Vision

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