Adriana, please tell us your story:
“I have been living in the UK for twenty years. Most of my relatives still live in Venezuela, including my mother Carmen and my middle sister Veronica and her younger son. Due to the dreadful situation in the country, my younger sister Carolina, as well as Veronica’s older children, my nephew Leonardo and my niece Andrea, have had to leave the country. Originally, they all emigrated to different places in South America, including Ecuador and Colombia but now Carolina and Leonardo are in Argentina and Andrea is in Chile. This is a close-knit family that has been separated due to the awful situation in Venezuela.
I know it is hard for them, both the ones who have left and the ones that remain. I have helped morally and financially where I can, even stretching myself financially more than I can really afford. At least I have been able to help my sister and my nephew leave to start a new life with hope and prospects. As much as I want to help my Mother financially, it is not so easy as the government has imposed a control exchange, which is false; there is a black/parallel market for the US$. Also, the government has recently issued a new currency: the sovereign bolivar which has confused even those that live there.
I am very worried about my mother still being in Venezuela as she cannot access basic food or medicines, let alone other general goods. Rampant inflation and food shortages often means she survives on one meal a day. She lives in constant fear of going out as crime and insecurity is widespread. Not to mention being worried about her daughter and grandchildren now living as economic migrants in other countries.
I could try bringing my mother to the UK, but it is not that simple. Aside from the fact that all her friends are there, she fears that if she leaves the country, her house will be squatted on by Chavistas and she will lose it; it is the only asset she has. Also, she feels that leaving the country is losing hope that things will get better.
I worry constantly about my family and what they are going through, and I feel frustrated that I cannot help more. I also feel sad, angry and absolutely appalled with the current situation in the country: rampant corruption, hyperinflation, public insecurity, food shortages and low morale and a huge division amongst the population. To think that Venezuela was one of the richest and most stable countries in South America.
The country is supposed to be a ‘sovereign democracy’ but none of this is democratic whatsoever. I know the times of intervention by a foreign country have now gone but surely, human rights are being violated here? Protesters are quashed down, freedom of speech is suppressed, and people are dying both as victims of violent crimes and of hunger. It is this despair that is making people flee the country, sometimes with very little possessions and even without a passport. They just want to escape this nightmare.
Ideally this crisis should be settled from within, but the truth is, there is no reliable organised opposition and the country is in such state of division and low morale that it will probably take a long time for this to happen.”