Please refresh the page and retry. L ucia Palacios, 22, was consistently top of her class at home in Maracay, Venezuela. But today Ms Palacios - not her real name - is working as a prostitute, selling sexual favours to British and German holidaymakers on the Costa del Sol. She is one of , Venezuelans that the Spanish authorities record as having fled the failed central american state for Spain over the last few years. The true figure is thought to be much higher and many educated women, like Ms Palacios, have been forced into prostitution to make ends meet.
It was a tough night, one she remembers as the time when she most regretted being poor and leaving first grade because her family was large and she had to work. That man was Jorge, and he's now my friend. She emigrated to Colombia, hoping to find work as a hairdresser and send money to her family. But reality changed her plans. When she arrived in Maicao, a Colombian city in the La Guajira region closest to the border with Venezuela, she was offered a job as a waitress in a bar.
The ‘fallen’ Miss Venezuela: a tragedy of sexual slavery and trafficking
Venezuelan women are being driven into the sex trade in Colombia in order to survive, a Sky News investigation has found. One mother-of-two, who used to be a ballerina and businesswoman in Venezuela before the country's economic collapse, told Sky News: "I would give this up if there was any other option. Sky News takes a look at the chaos in the South American country where eggs have become a form of currency. The women spoke of feeling powerless and vulnerable and admit their options are extremely limited, with no official paperwork to leave Venezuela legally in the long-term.
Crouched on the steps of a statue and surrounded by grubby motels, fast-food restaurants and bars, Andrea and Carolina say they fled Venezuela to escape hunger. About , Venezuelans have crossed into neighboring Colombia alone, both legally and illegally, since , according to Colombian authorities. For some, sex work is their final, desperate option. A third of that is spent on a motel room to take clients to, as well as condoms, food and daily rent for a room shared with four other women. Carolina said the monthly minimum salary in Venezuela only covers the cost of one kg of rice or a carton of eggs.