In Venezuela 5 faces of crisis

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Thousands of Venezuelans have fled their country to escape the hardship and violence of its economic and political crisis.

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Thousands of Venezuelans have fled their country to escape the hardship and violence of its economic and political crisis.

From Brazil to the United States to Europe, here are the stories of five Venezuelans who have started new lives abroad in the past two years.

Jobless in Colombia

Jairo Suescun now lives in Bogota, a city that he says "gobbles you up" play

Jairo Suescun now lives in Bogota, a city that he says "gobbles you up"

(AFP)

The last straw for cook Jairo Suescun, 30, was when thieves stole his kitchen knives.

"That broke my heart," he says.

He left his home city of San Cristobal five months ago for Colombia, since his mother was a Colombian national.

"I thought I would be welcomed, but it hasn't been like that," he says. "When you arrive alone, this city gobbles you up."

Unemployed and sleeping in a warehouse, he is hoping for money from a relative to get to Chile, where friends can help him find work.

"I don't know which is worse, the situation I'm in or that of Venezuela. But both of them fill me with longing."

Actress in US

Carolina Perpetuo, left, attends a rally in Miami to support protesters back home in Venezuela play

Carolina Perpetuo, left, attends a rally in Miami to support protesters back home in Venezuela

(AFP)

At demonstrations in Miami, fellow Venezuelans stop Carolina Perpetuo to ask for photos. She was a soap opera star in Venezuela.

She says the television industry suffered as studios were shut down under Venezuela's socialist reforms from the late 1990s.

Now 54, she lives like many Venezuelan immigrants in the El Doral neighborhood of Miami. In her garage, she gathers dozens of boxes of donations for the anti-government protesters in Venezuela.

"I am a citizen activist. I keep constantly up to date with what is happening in Venezuela," she says, in sunglasses and a black cap with a Venezuelan flag.

"I love my country and will die loving it."

Asylum-seeker in Brazil

Carlos Escalona, right, performs music with Congolese Kapaya Carine at the Missao Paz refugee center in Sao Paulo play

Carlos Escalona, right, performs music with Congolese Kapaya Carine at the Missao Paz refugee center in Sao Paulo

(AFP)

Carlos Escalona, 33, fled when he received threats after uncovering corruption in the Venezuelan public institution where he worked.

He saved as much money as he could and moved last year to Brazil, where he is seeking asylum, staying in a refugee center in Sao Paulo.

"In a way I feel much better than before," he told AFP.

"I'm no longer afraid to come and go from my home, or afraid when I hear the sound of a motorbike, afraid of the police. Or the uncertainty of wondering what I will be able to buy."

Poet in Uruguay

Jairo Rojas moved in April 2015 to Uruguay, where he has published three books of poetry, won poetry prizes and launched a verse publishing operation with friends play

Jairo Rojas moved in April 2015 to Uruguay, where he has published three books of poetry, won poetry prizes and launched a verse publishing operation with friends

(AFP)

A published poet, Jairo Rojas, 36, studied literature and art history, but found no steady work in Venezuela's cultural sector under the socialist government.

"Professional prospects were getting smaller in Venezuela because of politics," he says.

"It is like a filter -- if you do not belong to a certain ideology you cannot get a job."

Rojas moved in April 2015 to Uruguay, which has relatively easy immigration procedures for Venezuelans.

There he is studying for a master's degree and working in a bookshop.

"I don't know when I will go back" to Venezuela, he says. "It is easier to go to any other country than to live in Caracas."

Beer-seller in Spain

Xavier Losada now runs the "Bee Beer" bar in Madrid play

Xavier Losada now runs the "Bee Beer" bar in Madrid

(AFP)

Xavier Losada, 38, was fed up with seeing his children "shut up indoors all the time... from home to school, school to home," for fear of violent crime.

An engineer by training, he worked for more than a decade at Venezuela's biggest food manufacturer, Polar.

In September 2015 he moved with his family to Spain and opened a craft beer and cheese bar with his wife in central Madrid.

Life is "better, no question," but "there is an underlying sadness" about Venezuela, he says.

"Sometimes you forget about it. But every time I see the news about what is happening, I feel impotent."

-- Interviews by Lissy De Abreu in Bogota, Leila Macor in Miami, Paul Ramon in Sao Paulo, Tupac Pointu in Montevideo and Diego Urdaneta in Madrid --

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