Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses


PobrezaGFew things surprise me about Venezuela anymore. This is one of those things.

As it turns out, we not only import gasoline, we also import homeless families. I mean, my heart goes out to them, but this lady needs some help.

(HT: Joe)

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  1. Why wouldn’t she want to leave?
    I will never understand foreigners,specially Europeans and North Americans.
    Good luck to her,terrible story.

    • One reason I can think of is she has kids and their fathers might have an issue with her leaving with them. Who knows. I’m not sure why journalists bother covering a story if most of it is left to the imagination….unless they have no paper to print it on…

    • With 5 Venezuelan born kids? 2 of which were born outside legitimate matrimony? The amount of paperwork this woman would have to do to get her kids out with her has to be insane. It took an American-born friend of mine 3 years to get his Venezuelan parents out of here, and 5 years after that for his brother to get a greencard through the parents..
      Assuming she didn’t have kids to think about, she’d probably want to stay because of Venezuela itself. I once met an Italian expat who made a living as a tour guide with his boat in Los Roques, and he told me he would never leave. But there’s a huge difference between having a “pura vida” lifestyle with a decent trade and not having a job or rancho on the side of a road to show for yourself.
      I can’t really believe that that was the life this American had envisaged for herself when she first came here, and for that I pity her.

      • Those kids should be entitled to US citizenship as a case of Birth of U.S. Citizens Abroad

        What paperwork would she need? Her American Passport and her kids’ birth certificates, issued by the Registrar, stamped by the Interior Minister and the Foreign Ministry should be enough to get the ball rolling at the US embassy in Caracas. Seems pretty doable, considering that doing all five kids at once, it may require about a week and 30 Tax units (VEF 3810).

        • Correct. She’d have access to the embassy as a national, but she would have to get appointments for the kids, although because they are minors, she’d be able to do them as a group. Until she presents the correct partida showing her as the mother, they’d be considered Venezuelans and have to jump through the whole scheduling rigmarole; and that would be the most difficult part because it apparently takes forever to get an appointment at the embassy in Caracas. Once that was done and the forms filed, she’d be able to get them US passports in 2-3 weeks.

          I’m curious if Venezuela has any legal requirements for minors travelling abroad with one parent. As an American, were she to leave the US with three kids from her marriage, if he has any custodial rights whatsoever she would have to have a signed and notarized letter of consent from her ex-husband for the kids to leave the country with her. Does Venezuela have a similar requirement?

          • It certainly does require written, notarized permission by the non traveling parent. Also I’m sure that some kind of local Comuna rubber stamp is required

            If, however, on the kids birth certificate it says “Father: Unknown”, or words to that effect, then it is not required.

          • YES! Once, when I was taking my 17 year old back to the US, I was almost prevented from putting him on the plane despite the fact that he was a US citizen, with a notarized letter from his father (who was in the states waiting for him) giving me permission to travel with him. Apparently, even though his father was living in the US, it was expected that he have the letter notarized in Venezuela, somewhere he had never been. The only reason they let him go was because it was Wednesday and his 18th birthday was on that Friday. But it could just have been a bad day for the Aduana-who knows?

  2. Cue the government using her as a sign that Americans prefer to live in Venezuela even without a home instead of living in the horrible empire in five, four ….

    I see a free home for this lady in the not-too-distant-future. Don’t be surprised if she lands her own show on Telesur.

    • They’ll have to come up with something to cover the fact that she was evicted by the police but I can totally see her getting all sorts of goodies on live TV. They’ll just say she was being relocated to a better house with a new Chinese fridge or something.

  3. “She escaped from the land of oppression to this land of opportunity. She is so free right now that doesn’t even have a home so she can move freely around the country without the problems of having a house. She reminds me to our old indigenous ancestors, nomads and free, wondering Caracas valley looking for a better meal”
    This could be a chavista opinion at Aporrea, I cant argue against their “optimism”

    • Excuse me, Pepe, but most of my native American ancestors all along the coast were farmers and fishers.
      Ever heard of the Valencioid culture?

      Those who were hunters and, above all, gatherers, were the Guamos and the Otomacos and the like. Think Guárico – think William Lara – and Barinas – think you-know-who, think Western and Eastern Llaneros!

      The Northern Caribs and the Arawacs were into farming, fishing, export and import. Even the wee Ayamanes and Guayones were farmers, although they used to be mostly drunk as there was no Polar beer but high-degree cocuy. And let’s not talk about the gochos: full time farmers.

  4. Wonder if the humanitarian paradise Cuba will take any refugees? Don’t they need to replace all the Cubans who swam to Miami?

  5. Seriously: someone from the MUD should challenge the government to investigate who is selling to those people those ranchos. I keep hearing from different sources there are professional squatters, but, above them there are always guys from the military and the police. Who are they? Why does everyone avoid talking about those higher up selling huts to those people?

  6. The Homeless here in the US get lots of help, but they can’t build ranchitos anywhere. There are laws, plus it gets cold at times y no hay manguito bajo en la esquina. So….

  7. It’s known that 80-90% of the people living in the streets have psychiatric problems. I don’t believe that this woman is “normal” by any stretch of the imagination.

  8. I’m sorry but I’m a U.S. citizen, and I don’t think this lady deserves special attention. In the article, it says that in spite of everything that’s happened to her, she still doesn’t want to leave Venezuela. It reminds me of the people who continue to support Maduro. In spite of being abused or ignored, they keep coming back for more. There is something about this situation that disgusts me though. The government hardly ever does anything to stop the invasion of private apartment buildings, office buildings, malls, parking garages, etc. They seem to have no problem throwing people out of ranchos that many of them built with their own hands however. There is an issue of land use in Venezuela that is rarely discussed, either in chavista or opposition circles. Huge amounts of land in Venezuela remain in public (government) hands. Almost none of this land is ever handed over to poor people who are willing to build their own homes. Instead, they are supposed to put their name on an endless list for a “vivienda digna”. All this under a government that claims to do everything possible for the neediest people. Instead, government and military officials treat this land as their own personal fiefdoms. They demand bribes from the rancho dwellers and builders, or throw them off the land whenever they feel like it. Instead of paying millions of dollars to Russian and Iranian companies to build crappy apartment buildings, why can’ they give land or money to people who want to build their own place?

      • I’m not implying that this lady should not be helped. It’s just that this sort of thing happens to thousands of people in Venezuela every year. The only reason Ultimas Noticias paid special attention to her is because few people in Venezuela can understand why someone from the United States would give up what they have to live in a rancho in Venezuela.

    • US citizens in general are very anti-homeless people, regardless of the reasons why they ended up being in the streets.

  9. One thing no one thinks about is how come the father of the 1st three children doenst contribute to his childrens upkeep , why do we forget about fathers responsability to their children , its because culturally in Venezuela its too easy for parents to abandon their children . The lady herself while in the throes of poverty has the temerity of having another two children with someone who is unable to maintain them , where is he by the way.!! this is at the root of so many of our problems , children who are abandoned , who are not cared for by parents that can take care of them or want to take care of them grow to be what?? responsible people with wholesome personalities ?? You bet !! Her drama is that of thousands of other women who breed other women and men who do exactly like their mothers and fathers, proliferating the conditions of poverty .

    There is no attention given to the human root cause of these dramas , only to the consequences and the need for the govt to assumme this endless burden of dealing with thousand of thousand of people raised under conditions that leave them incapable of making a living , of defending themselves !!. .

    • Fathers who abandon children: indeed, an issue nobody talks about in Venezuela but some familiy groups.
      A national politician talking about that? Nothing.
      And how would that work? Even if Venezuelans have to give their ID numbers for everything I am sure the government is not capable of finding out where those Venezuelans live…unless they are political enemies.

      • When I dream of Venezuela ever approaching First World developmental levels, I envision things like everyone having a Taxpayer ID (RIF) that has been merged with the regular ID (cédula).

        In this world, every adult Venezuelan still has to update any domicile changes with the Tax authority (as current legislation states), and this ID serves as the only valid proof of residency (no more copies of utility bills). That’s the address official institutions would use to send notices (like having to serve as a judicial or electoral juror, subpoenas, etc) and it would also be proof of residency for signing up as candidate or changing voting centers.

        In current Venezuela, there’s still some people with no ID, despite Misión Identidad, and lots of people who not only don’t pay any income tax, they don’t even have a taxpayer id, much less an updated one.

        • I would say most people don’t pay income tax. Firstly: do low employees who are on a contract with some municipio to clean streets or some low level secretary even fill in income tax revenues? I don’t live in Venezuela, so correct me if I am wrong but they do not fill in that if they don’t reach a certain income level.
          And that is the case for the majority of legal employees.
          As for the illegal employees: you know how it stands with them.

          • You have a point there. Most adult residents in Venezuela don’t pay income tax.

            In the formal sector, only employees who meet the minimum threshold of 1000 tax units have to declare their income, with each tax unit currently worth VEF 127, that’s people who earn at least VEF 127.000 a year. Most professionals qualify for this since professional salaries tend to be above VEF 10.000 a month, that’s not so true for many TSU who are unfortunately earning something like minimum wage + VEF 1000 or 2000 (for a monthly total of VEF 5000-7000, or a yearly VEF 60.000-84.000 not including the Christmas bonus), or for high school graduates earning minimum wage (VEF 4252 a month or VEF 51024 a year sans Christmas bonus). This constituency is the most reliable, since their employer reports their salary and sometimes even deducts a monthly tax advance from the paycheck.

            Public employees, deserve a special mention, due to the practice of regular bonus that aren’t part of the salary (sin incidencia), and constitute about half their monthly paycheck. These are not reported by the employer to the tax authority nor by the public employees (who have to declare their income even if it’s below 1000 tax units).

            Besides this people, and business owners, I don’t think anyone else is even declaring income taxes:

            – There’s the non-active population: students, housewives, mantenidos, bums, etc. have no meaningful income to report.
            – There’s the informal sector: street vendors, informal cab drivers, people doing odd jobs (tigritos) and other unregistered, cash only ventures report none of the income they get.

            But they’re all, in theory forced to get a Taxpayer ID (RIF) and keep it updated, which in turn requires one to bring a utility bill as proof of residency. RIFs are a usual requirement to open a bank account or get a credit, get USD from the government and I’ve always been required to bring it to get a formal job.

        • The first thing , even before tax paying , is having most people be capable of holding a productive job in a working economy which allows them an stable income for their upkeep and living expenses and those of their familities . A large percentage of Venezuelans dont meet that basic requirement , they have make shift transient very low paying jobs or ocuppations ( buhoneros for example ) or are virtually unemployed and scarcely employable . The first job of a govt is not making them happy with make believe unproductive jobs or hand outs . its giving them the tools and creating the economic conditions for them to meet that very first requirement , Taxes are a must but second in order of importance.

      • Kepler , Ill let my imagination run wild . Mandatory blood or DNA samples taken from all children at birth or on any one wanting a govt job or contract or pension or help . cross reference of same upon issue of ID Card , Fathers who abandon their children not allowed to recieve govt help or only a fraction ( the rest being impouded to fund an abandoned childrens fund) , Fine to climb the more children a man abandons . Same to apply to mothers who abandon their children on dont take care of them by sending them to school and regular medical checkups ( medical check up can tell how well mother takes care of their children) . ( in Brasil women with children given help for each child under her care up to 5 children provided they can show that they regularly attend school and take them to required medical check up ) . Abuse of children made a crime entailing loss of voting rights or access to govt assistance programs or govt jobs . I can think of all the caveats to the above but the spirit of the policy must be that mistreating children has consequences .!!

        • Mandatory DNA test for everyone, for every social program application is a huge overhead.

          Currently, Venezuelan birth certificates (partidas de nacimiento) contain the full name and id number of the mother and the father, plus some other information (age, occupation, citizenship, domicile, etc). Only when paternity or maternity are in question, do DNA tests become mandatory to clarify it. In those cases, the birth certificate can be reissued with the corrected information.

          All we need is to put the already existing information on paternity/maternity into a automated system, and even this would be a stretch. The problem we are facing is in Venezuela is that mothers are unable to coerce alimony even from men who are the legal fathers of their children, sometimes even when the guy is married to them, but separated, because the courts and the prosecutors’ office are a mess. It’s not a problem of having lots children with no legally established father, rather of lots of legally established fathers not providing for their legally established children.

          State meddling in private affairs without being asked to, is the last thing we need. In theory, universal records of people’s true parentage seems a great idea, but I fear it would be highly disruptive for our society. Imagine the revelations of infertile men who agreed that their wife be impregnated by someone else (the old-fashioned way), but recognizing the child as their own; of cheating spouses being always revealed by the state, sometimes falsely, because we both know mix-ups are bound to happen in such a large undertaking; of the children of teenage moms being secretly given to a grandmother to be raised as a sibling of her mother, or to another relative; of parents giving their children away in adoption… I see the arguable benefits, but I just don’t see the need.

          • No way with DNA for everyone. Venezuelans can’t even keep resources for public hospitals and you expect them to keep DNA data of all Venezuelans?

            But if woman X says Y is the father (at least she should know the name), we have the ID. Then it’s DNA time for that guy.

            Imagine María Rodríguez Ramírez says you are the father of her little twins. She doesn’t know where you live but you live in Venezuela. The Ministry of Family finds 20 “J. Navarros” of our age (+-). They present her 40 pictures and she has to say who is you. Then they send a registered letter to your house. If you do not respond to that letter, within 30 days you will find out whenever you use your ID that you have to report to the police to do anything. The cashier tells you: “Sr, el sistema nos dice que tiene que ir a la policía, no sabemos porqué”.

            You won’t be able to pay with ID, use a bank account etc in Venezuela until you deal with that.
            Of course, if you go, they tell you you have to go to the Ministry of Family to solve the issue. You go there, take your test and you can use your ID for minor things (not withdraw big sums of money) until the results come. And when they come you will know whether you are a happy father or someone was bugging you. If she was bugging you, she will have to pay a fine.

          • I think, that may be oversolving the problem. The laws are already there, what we need is enough judicial expediency, so moms can go to the prosecutor’s office, file a complain against the father, so the father is subpoenaed.

            If the guy doesn’t comply with the subpoena, he would be subject to arrest to get him to give out a statement (“solicitado”), it should be easy enough to arrest him using the Tax ID (RIF) address or the Social Security (IVSS) listed employer’s address, or the Tax ID address of the guy’s business, the mom should also have some idea of where to find the guy or whom to ask. If he complies, go to the next paragraph.

            Once rendering his statement, if the guy denies paternity (regardless of whether he’s the legal father), proceed to a mandatory DNA test. If it comes out positive, he’ll be the legal father, if it comes out negative he won’t the legal father and the mother may be subject to fines or some charges (if the guy’s reputation was affected, if it caused him trouble in his marriage, if she tried to blackmail him, etc). If he accepts paternity, go to the next paragraph.

            Once paternity is affirmed, try a friendly arrangement for an alimony scheme (amount, frequency, bank account or payment mechanism, etc). If that fails, go to court and a judge will settle the alimony arrangement.

            Once the scheme is defined, if the guy fails to honor it, the mom should be able to file a new complain. The result of that complain should be: either the money is deducted directly from the paycheck, or the guy is taken to a small claims court, and failing to pay has cash seized from his bank account or some assets seized and auctioned.

            The problems we have are: there aren’t enough prosecutors to meet demand, the police isn’t effective enough to ensure the guy renders his statement if he fails to comply with the subpoena (exacerbated by lack of dependable state records), the demand for DNA testing isn’t met, there aren’t enough judges to hear the case, there’s no effective judicial mechanism for small claims in Venezuela.

          • I am fully aware that the caveats are endless and that the whole idea is unworkable under current conditions also that there will always be ways of gaming the procedures ( thats why I qualified it all by stating that I would ‘let my imagination go wild’ ) but then to just let things stand as they are implies letting all these dramas go on for ever.

            The thing with a radical idea is to paint it first with a broad brush and then start chiseling it and refining it to see if you can get to something that represents an improvement over existing situations without endevouring to achieve perfection . Ideas that work 60% are better than ideas that work 0%. People tend not to use their imagination to see how far an idea can be brought forward to practical realization if initially it seems unfamiliar . If you cant achieve inmmediate perfection you just forget about it , but the way technological progress works is that you go bit by bit , slowly making somethig better , more practical , easier to use , more automated , just as long as you arent impatient and want magic bullets you can go a long way .

            If Venezuela doesnt do something about the disfunctional family parenting situation that now afflict our marginal population well never get anything done !! This is a hidden problem which is behind so many others that it gets no attention although its consequences are huge.!! How do you tackle such a problem !! the bland call for more education is futile because these are cultural problems that go to the every day way in which people interact with each other and their psychology .

            I can think of many ways in which the basic idea can be made more practical and developed to achieve some improvement over current conditions , but that cannot be the intent in a forum as narrowly formated as this one . But I would simply feel content if people just gave it a bit more thought , because I do see the urgent need for doing something !!

  10. I have visited Venezuela many times and travelled all over the country. Each time I thought about living there, then Chavez took over. I realised he was bad business when he changed the name of the country, changed the flag and the constitution and I decided to wait and see what would play out. Any American or Canadian would love to live in Vzla if it were properly run. The mountains,rivers,climate and the people at the time were friendly and carefree. All that is lost for the time being. If the Venezueland wake up in time, I may still be able to retire there.

    • May I suggest Costa Rica or Panama, instead? For you may not live long enough to see the changes you need to feel safe in Venezuela.

  11. ajá, pa que después digan que es mentira eso de que los gringos nos quieren invadir…

    (shamelessly lifted from the República Bananera timeline in FB)

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