Those Who Are Leaving Venezuela


HAVANA TIMES — Yesterday, I bid farewell to my best costumers: a young couple and their 9-month daughter. I did three photo shoots for them: during her pregnancy, after the baby was born, and later for the child’s baptism.

The fourth time we met was for a rather odd reason: a photo shoot for a modeling book. What’s odd about this is that none of them is a model, an actor or anything resembling that. Behind this rather humorous session was a very sad motivation: leaving the country.

To be able to travel to Mexico and take his family with him, Esteban had to fake a modeling contract. That’s why they got in touch with me again and I was told this part of the story.

When I first met Esteban and his wife Jessica, he had a small car spare-part business. The business had done well until a few years ago, when buying the spare pieces outside Venezuela became more and more difficult, as did getting one’s hand on essential dollars. Foreseeing even greater losses, Esteban sold his business and car to pay the cost of the “contract” that opened the door to a new country and to new hopes.

Who would have though Mexico could represent the hope of a better life for other Latin Americans who aren’t Cuban?

Until a few years ago, Venezuela was a country that hundreds of foreigners wanted to move to every year. The number of Venezuelans who left the country wasn’t considerable. Now, the nightmare we Cubans know too well is starting, and I won’t describe what’s left behind each new time someone is forced to emigrate.

Esteban’s is not the first family I know that leaves or has plans to leave Venezuela. What will happen when more and more small companies or businesses close down because their owners leave the country or go bankrupt?

Where will all the employees hired by these small and mid-sized companies, who are left unemployed during the profound crises Venezuela is experiencing, finally go to?

As I lose more and more customers, my mother-in-law seems to become more Chavista…or Madurista (I’ll never be able to tell). Something odd has been happening since Chavez’ death. It is more and more common to run into people who never held him high esteem and who now unconditionally support President Maduro.

I don’t know whether it’s the sense of guilt people develop after a death, or whether it’s because they realize they could lose certain benefits if Maduro left power.

As for my mother-in-law, an elderly woman who was never employed anywhere outside the home, she fears losing the pension Chavez made available to elderly housekeepers. She finds the rise in public transportation prices very fair. She has someone who stands in line to buy the basics for her and insists that, if the United States were to attack, she would go and defend her country.

There are other ways to leave Venezuela. A month ago today, Kluibert Roa, a teenager from the state of Tachira, was murdered. He was killed by a police officer while returning home from school. My mother-in-law, who always said she didn’t believe in any political party and doesn’t miss one of parliament speaker Diosdado Cabello’s shows today, said that it had been the mother’s fault, for letting him be out on the street “partying.”

She only repeats what she hears on pro-government TV programs, practically the only ones left today, where, nearly every night, the president speaks, like in those wonderful days of my adolescence and early adulthood, when Fidel Castro tried to convince us we could buy many liters of milk with a single dollar and threatened to destroy the Empire, sacrificing himself and the people in the process. That one had a beard, this one has a moustache – both create an alternative reality while the other, the one that hurts, writhes in agony behind it, like the shadow of a country that is being bled to death.

33 thoughts on “Those Who Are Leaving Venezuela

  • Again, how are those oil prices doing?

  • How is that prediction you make in this comment that oil prices would rise soon? It’s 4 months later and the prices are still falling. Wanna’ try again?

  • Quite simple. They send money to us via Western Union. We put it in a bank account for them. Of course there are limits to the amounts that they send and the frequency that they can send it.

  • Hello there. I have a friend in Venezuela that’s hoping to leave sometime soon. I was wondering if you could share your strategy on helping the couple leave. It would be very much appreciated.

  • John, you seem to have a comprehension problem. The above are direct “quotes” from industry insidersrs and traders involved with the commodity known as “oil” . So I don’t know what your babbling on about. I was just commenting on your statement that oil would go back above a $100 within a year.

  • “you can choose to believe the bullshit emanating from the corporate media” why not? because John Goodrich said so? Should I believe the bullshit emanating from the socialist media? because a quick search on google is proof enough! I tell you what John Goodrich (or what ever your real name is). I don’t get my info from google. I lived in Venezuela for years until recently and I saw the country go from ok, to bad, to hell. Now Venezuela is just hell without toilet paper. The more I read of your comments the more I believe your are a high school kid or a really stubborn old guy going senile. I am more inclined to believe that you are stubborn, old and senile. I mean you admit that you have been following “US. foreign policy, anarchist studies , the corporate media” for some 45 years so you conclude that this makes you an expert that no one should question. All is see is someone stuck in the past. you are trying to justify a repressive gov. with no respect for the Venezuelan constitution or people because they published some poverty reduction stats and thumbed their nose at the US. So All the repression, abuse, murder, extortion, and theft get a free pass because the Socialist Chavista Gov. reduced poverty. “But they were democratically elected” you say. Well so was Hitler. It wasn’t so easy to get him out was it even after the public realized their mistake. I’ll tell you a secret. I voted for Chavez the first time. I thought he was genuine. It was a mistake. Elections were later bought with the oil bonanza and expropriated stuff. Now the money is gone there is only repression, intimidation and computer voting rigging left for the Maduro Gov. It’s so sad the way Venezuelans are suffering now. Socialism is awesome until you run out of other people’s stuff. For now John Goodrich I will take my years of personal experience over your 45 years of intense article reading and analysis.

  • I think you ideologues on the far right need to be careful about accepting the word of the GOUSA and the parroting corporate media as regards those the oligarchic GOUSA considers enemies; countries like Venezuela, Cuba .
    and Iran.
    History has shown that the USG and the corporate media do not tell the truth when such countries are involved .
    Secondly, you are placing yourselves on the side of present and historic U.S. imperialism and its capitalism enforcing -centered foreign policy which position is immoral on its face.
    Face it. There are capitalist countries in far worse shape than Cuba, than Venezuela but you choose to go after only countries on the left and both ignore and support the far worse evil of U.S. imperialism in the region and in the world.

  • Please take a look at the statistics again . In 2013 the average price of oil was over US$100 per barrel . According to the Venezuelan Government Statistics poverty rose by nearly 7% in the year (I refer you once more to the INE website). In 2014 the average price of oil was over US$90 per barrel (the price of oil only started to drop in the last quarter). I would love to refer you to the INE statistics once more but unfortunately the Government has stopped publishing them (even though legally they are obliged to do so). A survey by the 3 leading Venezuelan Universities published at the end of 2014 stated that poverty levels in Venezuela were back to pre Chavez levels. Two of the three Universities involved in the survey are Government sponsored Universities.

  • Ummm. I think the pain in Venezuela will continue

    ,Here’s where the experts think oil prices are going:
    Oil will probably continue to decline to as low as $30 a barrel, said Gary Cohn, president of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. “We’re probably in the lower, longer view,” said Cohn, a former oil trader.”

    “We don’t think we’ve seen the bottom yet,” said Giovanni Staunovo, a commodities analyst at UBS in Zurich”

    “We are establishing a bottom,” said Bill O’Grady, chief market strategist at Confluence Investment Management in St. Louis, which oversees $2.4 billion. “In the long run, probably $60 is going to be your pivot point.” 

    “The fundamental supply and demand does remind me of 1986 a bit, where we could go into a period in this decade of lower oil prices,” said BP CEO Bob Dudley. Prices may stay below $60 for as long as three years, he said. “It will be a long time before we see $100 again.”

    …suffice it to say that it will be quite some time before oil prices go up. I don’t think MasBrurro can weather the storm. I say a military coup gets him long before then.

  • This may come as something of a shock and surprise to you but………. Venezuela is very heavily dependent upon its oil revenues to fund its social programs.
    When the price of a barrel of crude drops by half , then the social programs that reduce poverty are temporarily cut as they have been.
    The 2014-2015 statistics would of course be worse than in the years when oil sold at twice the price.
    Why is it necessary for me to point out this obvious fact ?
    Because those who oppose Chavez, oppose any moves toward an equitable society , oppose any thing other than what was before Chavismo will not mention it.
    The price of oil will return to US$100 per barrel within a year or so and the poverty reduction and grass roots organizing groups will again be fully funded.
    The current economic problems are both serious and quite temporary.

  • You can choose to believe the bullshit emanating from the corporate media . It’s your right.
    It’s also damned stupid given the history of the United States interventions in Latin America, the Caribbean and the world to say that the USG is not working at many levels to bring down the Chavista movement.
    For a prime example of how the corporate media lie and have lied about Venezuela you can go to today’s ( April 1 ) ZNet and read
    Democracy Behind Bars In Venezuela -A Reply to UK Guardian: Boothroyd or Google the article anytime.
    Lastly , the fact remains that the present line of leaders in Venezuela have been democratically elected .
    If the government was as bad as you and the corporate media and the capitalist opposition claim, if the poverty reduction were not substantial , the majority of voters would see this and vote them out, wouldn’t they ?
    I see no reason to respect anyone who sides with the very wealthy, with the imperial GOUSA and/or with the corporate media all of whom support the interests of the wealthy at the expense of the poor of Venezuela and the world .
    What I owe my opposition is my honest opinion based on some 45 years of following U.S. foreign policy, anarchist studies , the corporate media
    Respect must be earned.

  • Don’t be disrespectful. The latest polls shows that Maduro has a 20% approval rating. This talk you Chavistas give about the US wanting to attack is absolutely ridiculous. If the US wanted to invade Venezuela it would be over in hours. The sole purpose of the Venezuelan military now and there constant purchase of weapons is to suppress the Venezuelan population as people start to get hungry and rebel. There is more poverty than before now in venezuela is continuously battered by runaway inflation year after year. A country so badly run that the government has no money but can’t explain how 350 billion dollars disappeared from oil revenue just a few years ago. Even worse when people like the author of this article speak out about real experiences and suffering you attack them shouting out bunch of stats and assumptions that insult that miss the point completely. Who gave those starts about poverty reduction? Maybe you will say i’m stupid and it was the UN. Ok the UN said that poverty decreased in Venezuela. How did they conclude that? I’ll tell you how data given to them by the Chavez Government. It has never been verified by impartial sources. Please respect the international community. we are not the brainwashed, beat down suffering Venezuelan people who have no choice but to listen to you high school, offensive pro Maduro ranting because we will be fired if we walk out of a pro chavista rally. You behave like a bully to the author. This may work in Venezuela but not on a free internet.

  • I suggested you look at the Government Sites as if they are showing Statistics that are considerably worse than the ones you are quoting then maybe you would see that the ones you are quoting are incorrect. As I cannot believe that the Government would be deliberately publishing statistics that are worse than in reality.

    I would be interested to know what your definition of poverty is.? In Venezuela at the moment the minimum wage is 5622 VEB the current Simadi exchange rate is 190 to the Dollar.

    This means that the minimum wage in Venezuela is currently less than 1USD a day. By most recognized definitions these people are living well below the poverty line. If you add to these people the 7% of the population who are unemployed . Then let us not forget the poor pensioners that is anther 10% of the population. Are you beginning to get the picture.

    I went to ZNET and took a look and the first article that is there and it was titled ” Does Venezuela Have an Amazingly Efficient Health Care System?” It is full of Statistics that are from 2012 and 2013 . Why do they not use Statistics from 2014. Why do they not mention the fact that the UCV Cancer Unit has been shut since July 2014 because of a lack of medication. Try googling
    ” Gabriel Romero Caracas” and see why one of the leading Oncologists is claiming that he is practicing medicine as it was in the 1940’s.

  • How about you do as he says and go to the “official” government site.

  • John never lets actual figures to stand in the way of hood socialist propaganda

  • John,

    Whatever gains Venezuela’s poor made through Chavez’s subsidies have long since been wiped out by the hyperinflation, shortages and unemployment his economic policies created. Short term gain has been overtaken by long term pain. And it’s going to get much worse.

  • Cort,

    I am sincerely interested to hear what the “Left” inside Venezuela think about the fact that Chavez, Maduro and their crowd of corrupt military officers and businessmen who have fleeced the wealth of the country? Under the guise of a “socialist revolution”, a few powerful people have become very wealthy. They have been sending the stolen and swindled capital out of the country to Spain, Switzerland, Miami and Havana. When the economy of Venezuela finally hits the wall, and it will, the rich & powerful, including Maduro & Cabelo, et al, will have fled. It will be the poor who have to deal with the mess.

    Are the people angry at Maduro or are they even aware of what has happened?

  • So the first three pages on Google of sources for info on poverty reduction in Venezuela are all wrong ???
    You have an obvious axe to grind .
    Try this: go to ZNet and scroll down on the right side until you get to the section of all Venezuela articles and read them .
    You take an unusual stance of suggesting I rely on Venezuelan government statistics when most on this website will never take the word of the Cuban or the Venezuelan governments for anything else.
    I believe it best to have looked at all sides of an issue over a long period of time and this is what I’ve done for forty five years .

  • If I google poverty reduction I will also come up with these figures it is because google will find your figures it does not make them correct. That is why I asked for an official Government web site . If you google “Venezuela pobreza INE” you will get the official statistics and they bear no resemblance to your figures . Even your 50% is not true.

  • After Antonio Ledezma
    was elected mayor of Caracas in 2008 the national assembly passed the Capital District Law in 2009 transferring most powers and funding to an unelected body. So much for respect for elections by the Chavistas. John, I repeat your last sentence “You’d do well to do some thinking about democracy and majority rule- which is what it means.”

  • Okay….done.
    I Googled up “poverty reduction in Venezuela”
    and came up with article after article about how good a job the Chavista programs had done in reducing poverty.
    That is, until the recent plunge in oil prices over the last two years or so and in the revenues these oil-funded poverty reduction programs relied.
    So it is somewhat negligent (to be kind) on your part to ignore the previous 12 years of successful poverty reduction to concentrate on the recent drop in such efforts due to a historically abnormal drop in crude oil prices.
    As aid to the poor dropped as funds became harder to obtain and social conditions deteriorated, the Maduro vote also dropped and in these worst of times as critics would have it, he still won.
    When the price per barrel of oil returns to normal levels, as it will soon , the funding for these programs which benefit the majority of the electorate, will also increase and the popularity of the Maduro government in future DEMOCRATIC elections as well .
    Thanks for having me confirm my beliefs but more so for pointing out how I need to improve on citing statistics .

  • I get my info from ZNet and Venezuelanalysis and from a great many different articles published at these websites.
    It would take some time to go back over the many years to provide specifics .
    I probably jumbled the 80-40% statistics but I remember a 50% reduction in poverty being mentioned in a series of articles
    but misremembered the original numbers.
    You’d also have to compare the economic conditions in Venezuela with those in other countries in Latin America for a fair look at things.
    It would seem to be common sense to believe that the VZ people believe they are doing either well or better under the Chavez/Maduro programs and governments than they would have done under the more oligarchic form of traditional Venezuelan government or they would vote Maduro et al out.
    Venezuela IS still a democracy and still moving toward the left only because the U.S. government has NOT been able to impose a dictatorship on the country.
    Had VZ voted in a hard-right pro-free-enterprise capitalist government , the economic conditions in Venezuela would not be a topic in the corporate media or in this or many other fora.
    It’s a matter of concern only to those who oppose anything other than a pro-capitalist, pro-imperial Venezuela. ( or world) .
    I do appreciate your (likely) valid criticism of my sloppy statistics and will now have to spend some time looking back on things I’ve read on poverty reduction in the new Venezuela .
    Again, the people of Venezuela are the ones to decide , not the U.S. government or the corporate media .

  • My apologies for the double post, I am having network problems

  • Mick,
    That the Chavez programs reduced poverty and increased grass-roots participation in government is unquestionable .
    That Chavez and Maduro were democratically elected is unquestionable even though you make the feeble attempt.
    That there are crooks in the Venezuela n government and in every government on the planet is supposed to be some kind of secret ?
    I would say -U.S. keep out of Venezuelans affairs and let the Venezuelan democracy work as it should.
    You imperialists just can’t stand democracy and that’s your problem along with the fact that U.S. backed coups against democratic governments no longer seem to work in Latin America as was once the rule.
    Lastly, the price oil will soon go back up because the glut is temporary .
    Once the revenues increase, Venezuela will increase its aid to the many poor, add to it’s grass-roots organizations among the poor and just doing those things will ensure a long future of victories for Chavismo in any democratic election.
    The movements Chavez started, will continue.

  • As I have mentioned before in this blog, my wife and I are helping a professional Venezuelan couple save their money in a US bank in anticipation of this couple’s planned departure from a suburb of Caracas to hopefully somewhere here in the Bay area. Their reasons for wanting to leave are simple: they see life in Venezuela getting much worse before it gets better. Sad. Really sad.

  • John Goodrich’s comments are always short on facts. I am still waiting for a corroborating source for his definition of Socialism.

  • Can you give us the source of your statistics as the 80% you specify does not agree with any statistics supplied by INE (the official Venezuelan Government source).
    According to INE in 1999 the official figure for poverty was 42%. This went down to 21% in 2012 and in 2013 rose again to 27%. Since then the Government has been reluctant to publish figures.

  • Get a clue?

    It sounds to me like she has first hand experience of the so called democratic dictatorships.

    Even with gerrymandering, government funded domination of the media, intimidation at the polls(motorcycle gangs), and an election council that was openly supportive of the current regime, Maduro could only claim 51% of the voters, dead and alive.

    When Chavez took over many of the old crooks were replaced by new crooks, as the song says, “come meet the new boss, same as the old boss.”

    The so called strong Bolivar was worth $2.00 before the oil bubble. When oil was trading at over $100 last summer it was worth about a penny. Now that hundreds of billions have been squandered or skimmed and Venezuelan heavy crude is selling for less that $50, that same Bolivar is worth less than $.005.

    Viva la Revolution!

  • Nowhere in this article did the author argue that the majority of the Venezuelan population is opposition. In fact he actually states that everyday it is more common to find people who support Maduro unconditionally. The article is about the people who have left the country.

    I dont know where you live John Goodrich but I doubt you live in Venezuela. I do live in Venezuela. Everyday it is harder to find basic goods, inflation is sky high and as a consequence kidnappings, roberries and crime-related deaths are soaring. Yes, everyday you find a die-hard Madurista but you also find a Chavista/Madurista rethinking their once unconditional support of the government.

    Chavez may have won by majority but a good parade and sales pitch will still ultimately crumble if disaster is what lies behind the curtain.

  • I have been in Venezuela for 2 months on this trip and I am to the Left of the government but I have a very different view on the uncompleted Bolivarian revolution than you and the reasons for the problems facing the people.

    It is sad you have become more reactionary since your stay in Venezuela, maybe it is time for you to leave and to go to Miami or Doral.

  • Your poverty statistics are incorrect if you go to the INE website(official Venezuela Government site) in the first Semester of 1999 42,8% were living in poverty. By the end of 2012 this was reduced 21,2% . However by the end of 2013 it had increased to 27.3% At the moment nobody can say exactly how many people are living in Poverty as the Government has stopped publishing statistics. A study by Venezuelan Universities estimated that by the end of 2014 Poverty levels were back to pre 2000 levels.
    A report by the World Bank published in March 2015 concerning Latin American Poverty rates excluded Venezuela as they said that the Data Received from Venezuela was not credible .
    Could you please post the official Venezuelan Government source for your figures. I would be interested in seeing them.

  • The people of Venezuela have spoken through the ballot box and not via a coup as you would probably prefer to enforce a more pro-capitalist Venezuela against the will of the majority.
    If you care at all about democracy, you had better tread a bit lighter on the Chavistas and Maduro’s model which they democratically vote to keep.
    Get a clue: before the Chavez programs to lift the poor some 80% of Venezuelans lived in poverty and those programs cut that rate in half or better.
    When you benefit 80% of the population you can be fairly well assured of the support of most of that 80% .
    So you can push for a reversion to what existed before by any means possible even try another coup but always keep in mind that you’re going against the will of the majority of Venezuelans and how did that U.S.-backed coup against Chavez work out back at the turn of the century ?
    You’d do well to do some thinking about democracy and majority rule- which is what it means.

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