He flew to Colombia to meet again with his partner and was stranded due to Pandemic

He flew to Colombia to meet again with his partner and was stranded due to Pandemic

Maximiliano Pugni (44) is an accountant and lives in Mar del Plata. He has been in a relationship with for 5 years Victoria Charriz (44), a business administrator from Barranquilla who planned to move to Argentina with him to start living together.

When the pandemic began, in 2020, the project had to be postponed. Since then, they maintained a relationship at a distance that became increasingly difficult to sustain. So, Maximiliano traveled to realize the long-awaited reunion.

However, things did not go as planned. The Argentine arrived in Barranquilla on June 15 on an Avianca flight and had a return date for July 2. On June 28, the bad news began, as his flight was canceled for the first time. It was rescheduled for July 12, so the PCR was done the day before but, a few hours before, it was canceled again.

Now and for the third time, they reassigned my flight date to July 7, but I feel in total uncertainty because I already lived it: everything was fine, until they canceled my return 24 hours before,” Maximiliano said.

Unlike other stranded that they have to pay high accommodation costs in rented hotels or apartments, the accountant is lucky enough to be able to stay in his girlfriend’s house, but he does not get rid of the high daily expenses for his maintenance abroad and ensures that he is very concerned about his financial situation.

“I am covering everything with the money in cash that I have left and as far as the credit card allows me, but I don’t know how much more I can take because money is limited. I did not come prepared to stay several months, I came to spend 20 days. With the dollar so high in Argentina, the change hurts you”, he assured.

Maximiliano works as an accountant in a company in Mar del Plata, and, to keep his job, he had to carry out his tasks remotely from Barranquilla

“I do what I can, but the inability to go back is causing work to be delayed. Also, I have to assist my mother and this is hurting me, because both in work and personal matters, one can delegate certain issues, but there are others that cannot. Also, I take a special medication that is running out. I’m going to have to get a prescription and see if I can find the same drug,” he said, concerned.

As the relationship at a distance became very difficult, since 18 months passed without seeing each other, Maximiliano made the determination to travel to Colombia, without imagining the harsh and unexpected experience that he has to face today.

Due to the pandemic, our coexistence project in Argentina was postponed, above all, due to the restrictions that foreigners have to enter the country. Since 2020, we postponed the reunion and took the precaution of not traveling in the middle of the pandemic. For this reason, I just went now and did it because nothing made me suppose that they were going to put a restriction of this type. I hadn’t seen my girlfriend since before all this started and it seemed like the right time to visit her,” he explained.

“One sees some things in daily life that contrast quite a bit with these restrictions: they say that they prevent the Delta strain from entering, but the quota does not seem logical to me, especially when I see the crowds of people in different parts of the country. It seems that nothing happens there,” he stressed.

Maximiliano said that he hopes that the authorities will take action on the matter, allowing the re-entry of all the stranded and  asked them to put themselves in his shoes.

“They put a quota of 600 people per day, but not only does it remain there, but then it remains for the airline to have the will to set up a trip because, like any other company, it manages its costs. Sometimes, one not only depends on the quota, but also on what the airline has available”, he stressed.

Even if you had to fork out more money and keep spending your savings, looked for another alternative to be able to return and contacted Aerolineas Argentinas. It was unsuccessful: they answered that the quotas for the three monthly flights from that destination were already covered.

“You don’t travel because you are a millionaire or because you don’t care about the country. Most of us who are stranded are work people, that every day we gather weight by weight to be able to pay for a ticket. And ultimately, entering and leaving the country is a right that is protected by the Constitution. The people who criticize us are wrong and I understand that this comes from the famous crack: I am not an antipatria for having traveled in the middle of a pandemic. The damage they are causing us with this restriction of not being able to return is very serious,” he warned.

“I wonder why things always work in the opposite direction in Argentina to what happens in other countries. It makes you angry and helpless, because what they do is not going to cause a drop in the number of cases. I need to go back and take my life back, just as I wish the rest of the stranded around the world. I just came on vacation, but there are people who are in delicate health situations or with urgent issues for which they have to return. I hear that they talk about leaving us out of the country for 5 months and I can’t believe it,” he said.

Finally, he reiterated that he cannot understand the objective of the restriction imposed on those who traveled and said that to enter Colombia they no longer ask for a PCR.

“I give you this information because, if one compares the number of cases with Argentina, we are practically the same. Then, I do not believe that the measure will prevent new cases. They lowered the daily quota of income to the country to less than half, but one continues to see people who gather in celebrations and in matters of that type, which contrast with what is proclaimed,” he held.

“People come back under strict controls: to leave Colombia you need a negative PCR, in Ezeiza they do a second test, they send you to quarantine in a hotel that you have to pay with your money and it is logical, but, if later there are people who do not comply, they will have to sanction them and not punish the rest, because we did things well. They make us all pay because a person breached the quarantine and that does not correspond,” Maximiliano concluded.

Ben Oakley
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