More than 200 desperate Venezuelan migrants crossed the border illegally into Ecuador on Tuesday, fleeing misery at home as they raced to Peru before new rules requiring they hold a valid passport kick in.
Hundreds of angry refugees who had traveled days through Colombia from Venezuela by bus and on foot defied a regulation set by Ecuador's President Lenin Moreno that began on Aug. 18 and walked through the loosely guarded checkpoint at Rumichaca, near the southwestern Colombian town of Ipiales and the northeastern Ecuadorean town of Tulcan.
They plan to trek and hitchhike in freezing conditions some 840 kilometers to the crossing at Huaquilla in Peru.
Some 15 Ecuadorean police watched them cross the border but did not stop them.
Hundreds of migrants had planned to cross legally with their Venezuelan national ID card to find work in Ecuador, Peru or Chile. But they were stopped by the new regulation.
They need to get to Peru before that border enforces a similar rule on Aug. 25 that prevents them entering without a passport.
More than a million Venezuelan migrants have entered Colombia over the last 15 months, according to official estimates, but Ecuador, Peru and Brazil also have received them.