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.


Caridad: If I had the chance to choose what my next life would be like, I’d like to be water. If I had the chance to eliminate a worst aspect of the world I would erase fear. Of all the human feelings I most like I prefer friendship. I was born in the year of the first Congress of the Cuban Communist Party, the day that Gay Pride is celebrated around the world. I no longer live on the east side of Havana; I’m trying to make a go of it in Caracas, and I continue to defend my right to do what I want and not what society expects of me.

33 thoughts on “Those Who Are Leaving Venezuela

  • April 1, 2015 at 9:58 am

    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.

  • April 1, 2015 at 9:48 am

    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.

  • March 31, 2015 at 4:37 am

    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.

  • March 31, 2015 at 2:04 am

    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.

  • March 30, 2015 at 5:44 pm

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

  • March 30, 2015 at 1:22 pm

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

  • March 30, 2015 at 12:08 pm


    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.

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