« Dozens of pilgrims in Guachapala head every weekend to a local sanctuary to take part in a religious ceremony where they ask the Lord of Andacocha for protection and well-being of their relatives ahead of their migration journey towards the US or Europe.
Footage filmed on Sunday shows dozens of people heading to the Sanctuary of Andacocha to take part in the mass, where they lit candles and received blessings from a local priest.
« The migrants come here to visit the Lord of Andacocha, but above all to ask his blessing when they are going to undertake the journey, especially to the United States and also to Europe, and that is what these migrants do, » explained Father Victor, a local priest.
He explained that other people visit the sanctuary to express their gratitude because their family member has arrived at their final destination safely and affirmed that, according to him, at least 30 people start their migration journey every weekend, something he considers worrying.
“They know that when they say goodbye to the Lord of Andacocha, they will surely reach the United States and manage to get there and go through any difficulties, » he affirmed.
Fernanda, another devotee whose family member started a journey to reach the US, said that the current economic situation of the country, along with the insecurity and lack of resources, are the main factors behind the decision of people to head to North America.
“We are really bad here in Ecuador, » she said.
According to local media reports, from January 1 to August 28, at least 320,098 people crossed the Darien Gap forest to reach the US, including 190,889 Venezuelans, 42,414 Ecuadorians, and 35,495 Haitians. »