They stayed as the economy collapsed, food got scarcer, medicine shortages turned deadly and the electricity cut out for days at a time. But finally they too began to exit Venezuela.
They simply walked out.
The departure of the caminantes, or walkers, began slowly in 2017 with young men hoping to find jobs and send money home.
Now women and children, the sick and the elderly also are taking their chances, expanding an exodus that already is one of the biggest mass migrations in modern history.
Each day an estimated 5,000 people flee.
The most popular way out is through the Colombian border city of Cúcuta. Then comes one of the most difficult parts of the trip: a 125-mile passage that climbs more than 9,000 feet to a long and frigid plateau — El Páramo de Berlín — before descending into the balmy, green city of Bucaramanga.