Why we choose to stay…

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About a month ago, Juan saw this tweet:

Since we both are in similar situations, and hold similar opinions, he asked us to jot down some ideas on why we choose to stay.

And Juan doesn’t know it, but his request struck a chord with both of us.

Leaving is not an option for most Venezuelans (even though most of your friends and families may have gone demasiado). But choosing not to leave when there is even the slightest possibility to do so, is quite like swimming against the current. Needless to say, a very strong current.

Leaving has some obvious benefits, however, we are not here to delve on them. There are sufficient posts on this matter online. Those who leave surely believe the benefits of doing so are higher than the costs.

On the other hand, the benefits of staying may not be as straightforward (as getting away from violence) and may be different for everyone: a profitable business with deep roots in the country, networks, a privileged lifestyle, hope, and our many afectos, like family, Frescolita and the Ávila. Truth be told, our arepas, hallacas y patacones don’t taste the same outside of Venezuela. Not in Doral, not anywhere. #ForeverGorditas

Nuestra gente, nuestra comida, nuestra montaña y las direcciones que incluyen “al llegar a la mata de mango, cruzar a la derecha”.

To us both, the costs of leaving are high and the benefits are uncertain. And although the costs of staying are gigantic, we consider the benefits may be even higher. Economists, indeed.

We <3 Caracas. Yes we do.

We often receive the same questions and comments from friends and family on why we’re still here (or when will we leave). Once again, we will go through the excruciating experience of answering them:

 There are no opportunities left. The country offers no future. You must leave.

Disaggre 4

The thing is we are not waiting for an opportunity or for our future. We are trying to build those opportunities here, as we would do anywhere else in the world. We both share our dream job -and trust us, money has nothing to do with it. We are public policy analysts, and Venezuela is one hell of a school. The best there is.

Plus, we might reach the expected value of our effort and somehow help fix our quite broken country. It’s a high-risk gamble, but we think it’s worth it.

Kind of corny, right? But we mean it.

 Are you staying because of your family and/or boyfriend?

At least for now the answer is no.

Our families and significant others want to stay, but if they changed their minds we are not sure what our decision might be. It’s a rather difficult “what if” exercise. Some couples decide to leave the country together, while a few others end their relationships because only one of them wants to leave.

We both have siblings who have left Venezuela, and our parents are here “to shut the door and turn off the light.” We know what it means to have a family separated by distance.

Our afectos rank pretty high on our benefits lists, but they are not the deal breaker.

Aren’t you tired of it all?

Not at all. We LOVE to stand for hours outside of a Farmatodo hoping to find a couple of bottles of shampoo. And running home before 7pm because it is dangerous. It’s kinda exciting, don’t you think? We’re living the dream.

NSS

Now, seriously…

Living in Venezuela is tiresome and at moments depressing.

Trust us, we know.

It takes hours to buy a bag of groceries and it’s a miracle to find shampoo or milk. It’s even more wearing to be thinking about all the basic things we don’t have because we’re living in the midst of the Socialismo del Siglo XXI.

In all truth, it has even become rather difficult to explain the decision to ourselves, especially when it’s almost impossible to turn 30 and not live in your parent’s house. We feel, however, that when you’re working -in any which way you can- for things to be different, you are constantly reminded that Venezuela is worth it and that Venezuelans are worth it.

And to make it CORNIER…

 I don’t get you. You’re crazy.

Not to sound mean or anything… but not everyone has to get us.

Staying in Venezuela seems crazier by the hour, especially when there are high repression levels and anyone can end up in jail. [While we were finishing the post, we learned that the metropolitan mayor of Caracas, Antonio Ledezma, was snatched by SEBIN.]

But then again… Weird

To wrap it up:

We are not actively trying to leave Venezuela. We are not studying for any Toefl, GRE or GMAT tests. We are not applying for any Masters or Doctorates. We are not looking for sympathy. Don’t get us wrong. If a magical opportunity comes along anywhere in the world, we might consider it. It hasn’t.

The decision to stay in Venezuela is very personal. And even when we root for those who share our decision, it doesn’t mean that we recommend it for everybody. We choose to stay because amid all the chaos, wars (fictional or not), injustice, and uncertainty, there is no other place we’d rather be. No other place to make a better future. And no other place to make us better people.

PS: Don’t be sending links with news to lecture us about how terrible Venezuela’s situation is. Really… we know. But you can go ahead and share them with all of your friends abroad.

1 COMMENT

  1. Well I wouldn’t dare try to tell you how awful Venezuela is right now, because I assume if it were you might see leaving as an option.

  2. I am a foreigner here, working for one of the multi-national companies. I love this country, I came to enjoy its vast natural beauty, that one could spend a lifetime and not be done with. I’ve seen some. I can see all the things you mentioned above as things that people could ordinarily deal with – inflation, scarcity, corruption, government repression, crazy exchange controls, etc. These things happen in many countries (actually, in the vast majority of the countries on the planet) – different mixes, different levels but they happen and people adapt. However, the one thing that separates Venezuela from all the countries I’ve lived in, or traveled to, is how easy it is to lose your life – over nothing. As in Economics 101, survival has the highest utility. Most people I see leaving the country are not doing so because they can’t handle the things you mentioned above, they’re leaving because they’re tired of wondering whether they’ll make it home in one piece. Tired of the fear that grips them when someone walks out the door to get groceries or their child goes out to a party or the like. It is one thing to leave the house expecting to wait in line for hours to buy shampoo and quite another stepping out with a fear for your life. This, more than anything else, will encourage and sustain the exodus. After all, what’s the point of the Avila if you’re not alive to see it. Or have to see it having buried half your family who were killed for as little a cellphone. And, trust me, I know that your arepa doesn’t taste the same in Doral but when you have the freedom to walk a few blocks at night in Doral to get ice-cream on a warm summer night, it gives you a different perspective. And that’s the difference. I salute your courage to stay here. I wish I could say the same about myself.

    • Exactly this. 30% of the reasons I chose to leave was economic and social problems, 70% safety reasons. And as you perfectly said it, the first few nights that I was able to walk home or anywhere else without feeling an excessive fear for my life was so liberating that I swear I felt walking in heaven.

      • “Exactly this. 30% of the reasons I chose to leave was economic and social problems, 70% safety reasons.”

        In my case, about one fifth of the reasons is definitely street violence, whereas two thirds are due to economic problems. The remaining fraction of reasons correspond to other miscellaneous problems.

    • But for the most part among the educated people I know,they are just taking advantage of their privileges rather than sharing them with others.If they have accounts in dollars they don’t live the same miserable lives the poor do.This means they are participating in the corruption .As long as the middle class takes advantage of easier monetary possibilities in order to obtain maids, club memberships,and trips around the world etc….they are contributing to the corruption of the country more than helping.I don’t have too much faith in real help coming from those who are relatively content.Help will come from outside the country,and or from those who find their situations unbearable.

      • “a profitable business with deep roots in the country, networks, a privileged lifestyle”

        are not the kinds of experiences that usually push people into significant risk –

        on the other hand those in the barrios often have little to lose…

        and are the people who might just turn things around given the right circumstances

      • FP

        This is insulting. Most of the middle class people in Venezuela I know are just trying to survive without getting killed or assaulted by criminals, trying to work in a crazy environment while their neighborhoods sometime feel under siege. They don’t have maids, and club memberships, and trips around the world. (How are they going on these trips around the world, considering there are almost no flights available?) They wait in lines, they do without, they see the value of their wages decrease every day, they pray that medicine available for their elderly parents or their children will be available sometime soon, etc etc.

        This is not to say the middle classes, just like every other class, enjoyed some of the perks available by the insanely populist regime throwing play money at everything, but your comment is way out of line. When is the last time you went to Venezuela?

        • Fernando:

          “just like every other class, enjoyed some of the perks available by the insanely populist regime throwing play money at everything,”

          exactly my point Fernando

          Enjoying perks that those who have no dollars accounts cannot….again we talk about unfair privilege,which has always been the fundamental reason there is no justice in Venezuela.

          Way out of line? I should think not.Way out of line are those who insist year after year on maintaining the status quo.

          • Ha! Especially after having taught (no subject specified, natch) for a few years in Venezuela, before being fired from the job (perhaps because she knew more than the principal, natch).

          • The queen of slander and lies is someone who knows nothing about me.You seem so typical of Chavismo yet you claim to be opposition.Which is my point.

            MANY in the opposition( thank God not all) have the same face as Maduro.Corrupt and self centered….

          • You yourself contributed that information, Firepigette: that you were fired from the job in Caracas. And that was long ago. Certainly could not have provided too many earnings for you to live off, today, in North Carolina. Thank goodness you have a second husband to provide for you! And I mean that sincerely.

        • Fernando: your question was not directly answered (When is the last time you went to Venezuela?), but rather, received froth to divert attention. And for good reason.

          U.S. citizen Firepigette lives/lives off her second husband’s US-dollar earning capabilities in North Carolina. At least one or both of her children live stateside. She has not been back to Venezuela in many years. Perhaps as a result of poor blood-sugar controls, or an innate instability, she tends to fantasize and sermonize, the latter with hypocrisy. For a few years her wagging finger was laced with psychobabble. Now she uses chavista sentiment to do the same.

          Bottom line: jealousy-tinged B.S. Just thought you should know.

          • Lying as usual Syd.

            I am retired and living off my own earnings thankyou…

            This has nothing to do with living or not living in Venezuela or visiting or not…

            This has to do with the bullshit SOME people on the these blog talk instead of what is really happening …so many people I know in Venezuela taking advantage of easy money while the vast majority are hurting….and believe me it will backfire.

            I know it is hard to hear…but the hurt you feel is necessary.If Venezuelans want to be taken seriously they have to get serious…It is hard for foreigners to take you seriously with this kind of BS.

            I am not a Chavista …….I am a person who repudiates the kind of bullshit that has ruined a country I love. Most people here and in other countries would be shocked if they knew the kind of luxury many people in Venezuela insist on.The parties they throw, the trips they takes…all the while complaining about the government while the poor are worse off by the minute…..the fake social programs??? Give me a break.

            Everyday this blog gets more and more nauseatingly sifrino.

            Staying in one’s country is a valid choice…living with gov perks while being in the opposition is not.

          • If I’m lying, Firepigette, it’s based on what you have written on these commentariats, including falsehoods about your life. Remember your 100 family members living mostly in barrios? You tried to sell us that falsehood more than once to validate your identification with the poor. It smelled. So I kept asking you about it. You were finally forced to admit that you had “mis-spoken”. Remember that? I haven’t forgotten.

            You frothy routines are often filled with exaggeration and condescension, for which you’ve been called upon, not just by me. In a few instances, when found out, you’ve slinked off and come back with another identity. That, too, was revealed (through your own torpeza).

            So if I may recommend, I suggest you take a good look in the mirror. It’s a queer image of someone that needs to puff themselves up to look a certain way. And I know you’ll be receptive to my comments, for “I know it is hard to hear…but the hurt you feel is necessary”

            Pobrecita. Which of course you’re not. But you would be if you indeed had to live off your own earnings. You do not. You live off your husband’s US dollar earning capacity. And it’s time you stop fooling others into pretending otherwise. It’s tremendously dishonest. And you know quite a lot about that, don’t you, Firepigette.

          • all known by you through what? Psychic abilities? You are one sick lady….I have no need to make up bs about you but you are obviously terrified of me……and quite obsessed.Ask yourself why you are so obsessed…….and you might learn a thing or. 2

          • Pathological liars with multiple aliases normally think others are stupid. They don’t realize that their style of writing gives them away. That is, when they’re not revealing their masks through their own ineptitude.

            Over the years, Firepigette, you have volunteered an awful lot of florid information to tell us how wonderful you are. Truly a Grecian goddess. You have also informed us of your extraordinary experiences, especially among the Venezuelan poor, with whom you identify, at the expense of other socio-economic rungs, which you routinely deride. Fehh! (Why then do you gravitate to this blog?)

            Through all your volunteered information, tangled weaves and sermonized tones, some of it smelling decidedly un-truthy, it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to draw a composite picture of who “firepigette”, “gomadevil” or whatever other alias you have used in the past to sneak around these commentariats.

            That we’re terrified of you, those of us who can see through you? You must need that vision to reassure yourself. In the meantime, I can understand your obsession with replying to my comments. For it must be threatening to have one’s dishonesty aired out. But you see. it’s important that others know. Because most of us, who are from various walks of life, in Venezuela and beyond its borders, come here to share with HONESTY and to have CONVERSATIONS, not to read sermons by those who periodically weave a tangled web and use us as her little whipping post for whatever frustrations she’s feeling that moment. Can you understand that, Firepigette in North Carolina?

          • firepigette, feel free to ignore syd and his attacks. He’s a well-known paid saboteur of the Democratic Opposition around these parts. All he does is attack our prestige.

          • ….Staying in one’s country is a valid choice…living with gov perks while being in the opposition is not.

            It’s called survival, you self-righteous bitch!

      • So, firepigette – you do subscribe to the “parasitic bourgeoisie” concept, huh? And you expect help from outside? Like where?

        • Yes I do.Slowly, surely and sadly I have come to see just how many Venezuelans are using contacts to live off the government…and using their dollar accounts to live an easy life….Doubly sad for me is that many are actual friends of mine, and I am disgusted, but more importantly saddened.

      • I think you need to define middle class. Or what you think is middles class in Venezuela?. That they live in a Urbanización del este, in the house of their parents? that either way they don’t have things in the nearby supermarket? How many dollars in average the “middle class” has overseas? 100K , 50K. They have a university degree perhaps? That either way can’t have a treatment of cancer, because there are not the medicines (And mainly all cancer treatments in Venezuela , they have been subsidized for the government even if you got to a private Hospital, so for example there is not Iodine 131, no one has it, and it has been a year, it is used to make a capsule depending of your thyroid cancer of thyroid condition. Guess what? Maybe a year or more that the gov… sorry the dictatorship , do note release US$ to buy the iodine, SO NO ONE cand have the treatment, either in a Hospital IV, or a private Hospital… Maybe people should try Barrio adentro? oh yes they have closed lots of them, Even the cubans complaint about the insecurity! And not even them had paracetamol when we had “the febrile state”because it was not anything of that (oh yeas, there no reactives to get labs done) … And help will not come from outside. Only words.

    • Dr. F,

      That is my greatest fear, that enough of those willing and capable of resisting the regime flee (like in Cuba), leaving the remainder of the population passive and manipulable.

  3. This is a terrific post. I myself have left, but I honestly can’t criticize Venezuelans for staying, for whatever reasons they have. Both are completely valid choices.
    I know some ballsy people who have left without the legal paperwork to stay abroad and no jobs lined up; I know some people who are staying, but not by their own choice; I know people who have left and are happier in their adopted country, just as I know people who have come back to Venezuela broker and sadder than they were when they left.
    But I know only 3 people in all of my entourage who have the documents, the money and the job offers to make it abroad, and yet they don’t leave. And they give the exact same arguments as Anabella and Barbara.
    Leaving or staying is a hell of a decision either way, and arguing which one is more difficult is just a waste of time. I have huge respect to the people who can leave and choose not to, and it’s greatly comforting to see people who still haven’t lost faith in the country, even if it is a rare thing to see.

  4. As somebody that left years ago, just when Chávez got elected (as I still wonder why would anybody not see what was coming), I have to say…

    Good luck, hope the best, and may you live to see better times, and know you did your part to make them come.

    There is no need to explain anything, everybody does what their feel inside is what they have to do, leaving or staying.

  5. I was working in Guyana during the Burnham years , Very similar to Venezuela now. shorages,lines,discontent due to socialism. Many people left for foreign countries, others choose to stay and hoped for things to change but I believe the ones who left are better off now. Depending on what you hope to achieve in your life, you can choose to stay in Venezuela or leave. Any great future for Venezuela has been delayed . Not everyone can leave but their chances of making the most of their ambitions have lessened.

  6. Your reasons for staying are noble and admirable. I respect them, but I don’t agree with them…I might have a couple of years ago, but not anymore.

    However I do agree that it is a very personal decision, leaving is not for everyone and you should do whatever you fell you need to do and no one has the right to criticize your choices. You are brave souls! I sincerely hope that you get to see results to all your efforts and struggles eventually!

    • Of course it is a personal decision, though that personal decision is looking crazier and crazier by the day, especially if you do have the possibility to leave. I don’t mean to compare what’s going on in Venezuela with the Nazi Germany of 1938, but many Jews who had the chance to leave back then, for one or another reason, decided not to, and you know how that worked out…

  7. I know a guy who depends on a certain medication in order to stay alive and refuses to leave, in spite of having serious difficulties in finding said medication and the possibility that one day he may not be able to find it at all, no matter how many drug stores he visits. So, if people think you are crazy, then this guy is downright schizophrenic, and needs medication for that, on top of the one he takes to survive.

  8. I am a foreigner, and there is nothing preventing me from selling out and leaving Venezuela to its fate. Most of the other foreigners I have known here have left. I have given the issue a great deal of thought. There are, indeed, many reasons why I should do the same. So, why am I still here?

    1. I still believe in the potential of this country. I would love nothing better than to stay and participate in the re-construction, taking advantage of the early investment opportunities.

    2. I have many years invested in learning the lay of the land. If I relocate, it will take me a long time to achieve the same level of understanding of how things get done that I have here.

    And finally…

    3. I am repeating the joke of some Venezuelan stand-up comedian… It is like watching a bad movie. Sure, the movie sucks. But, it is nearly finished, “y quiero ver como termina la vaina!”

    • 3. I am repeating the joke of some Venezuelan stand-up comedian… It is like watching a bad movie. Sure, the movie sucks. But, it is nearly finished, “y quiero ver como termina la vaina!”
      ————

      Yeah, but you are not just watching the movie, you are in the movie. And in this movie, when the plane crashes, it is not just some special effects, it crashes for real.

      I’d rather watch the movie from afar…

      • As the man from Texas said, “This ain’t my first rodeo.” I have previous experience with these types of situations, and I am confident in my abilities to survive it. But, you are right that, for most, this is something that is best witnessed from afar.

        • yes, firepigette, because everyone knows how eeeevil is money, how eeeevil is salting away the fruits of one’s employment or business ownership, in dollars, how eeeevil is finding the best return for one’s money, how eeeevil it is to coast on the salary of others (hey! isn’t that you?), how eeeevil it is to leave the country (hey! isn’t that you and your kind?)

          The bullshit that emanates is astronomical. And frankly, people wrestling with a difficult decision don’t need it.

          • Syd,

            Obviously many people don’t find it evil to ‘aprovechar’ in Venezuela( it has always been the way) , which is my point.I

            Instead they can and will enjoy the logical consequences which is a weakened and corrupt society from top to bottom.

            Money is not evil, but taking advantage in a country like Venezuela with what is happening to the poor is…

            If people find that sermonizing so be it.I couldn’t care less.

          • Primero, auto-analizate, mija. Que tus sermones son ridículos en vista de tus prioridades personales.

            I know it must be INTOXICATING for you to pretend to be something on a stick. But those in the know, know the smoke you blow out of your backside. You have one hell of a nerve pretending to be holier than thou on these boards.

          • Avoiding the sad truth? If you don’t get to the root of the problem….it will be 15 more years of bullshit….sermonizing or not

  9. I think it’s totally valid that staying makes sense to a lot of people that could otherwise leave. Venezuela is a Beautiful (with a capital B) place with Amazing (with a capital A) weather. I mean, if people can make it work in Ohio or in Detroit, you can make it work in Venezuela.

    My people that have chosen to stay are mostly either retired or closed to being retired. It is easier for them to limit their interaction with the outside world and the decision to stay is purely economic. Housing is a sunk cost, food is cheap (when you can find it), gas/electricity is free, even cable is almost free. If you are on fixed income transferred from US$s you are doing pretty well.

    The few younger people I know that refuse to leave do usually have “good” jobs comparable to other jobs still available in Venezuela but it’s pretty clear they are in a steady decline in their quality of life and ability to accumulate wealth to cover life’s large expenses (retirement, education, etc…) That’s my concern for this group, staying makes sense today but where will they be in 20 years when it’s too late to leave and they are living in a run-down Habanaesk Caracas…

  10. I admire those that stay so very much.

    I chose to leave. Its been one year. Hardest decision I’ve ever taken. I did it for my children. Still I can’t help feeling guilty, like I’ve betrayed those that stayed; my family, my friends, my colleagues, my employees.

    In 2009 it became clear to me that it was best to leave, but my children were small and I decided to wait. It wasn’t clear what I was waiting for, I just waited. While I waited I decided to get involved in the community. I helped in a non profit endeavor, I helped during elections by being a witness and delivering food. By 2014 my children were about to become teenagers and I couldn’t wait any longer. They deserved to live in a place that would allow them to fulfill their potential, where their wellbeing wouldn’t be compromised by the circumstances. They deserved to enjoy their youth.

    I sold myself the decision as a 1-2 year sabbatical. Deep down I knew I was fooling myself.

    I think about my country all the time. Most of my dearest friends are still there. My company is still there, barely chugging along. My parents are still here, getting old and frail. I worry about them and I worry that won’t see them again.

    I try not to be nostalgic. I know it’s a wasteful sentiment. Can’t help it every now and then.

    I wish those that’ve stayed the very best. Stay safe. I hope that soon you’ll be able to help our country fulfill its promise. I hope that somehow you find a way to bridge the differences that right now seems insurmountable.

    Take care. Best of success.

    • I think that small/teenage children is a decisive factor in moving–it’s just too dangerous to expose them to daily (particularly big-city) Venezuelan insecurities. Another decisive factor is medical care/medicines needed on an on-going basis, frequently/usually not available in Venezuela today. Finally, so far as your parents, could they not be moved in with you?

  11. Yeah, I have read similar empty words from the likes of Luis Vicente León.

    For me it is like this: you want to play in the majors, you go to the US. You want to play football? you go to Spain.

    The best school of public policy? that’s in Harvard. The most complex failed state? I don’t know, Somalia?

    There is something the authors do not mention: fear of failure, hardship or just reluctance to leave an area of perceived comfort.

  12. The decline in living conditions hasnt reached bottom , the downward slide will soon become steeper and deeper , the represion is becoming more random and sinister even if the person voicing the orders is ever more clownish and absurd . Venezuelans have never emigrated anywhere , they are adaptable and comfy and dont like the stress and uncertainty and effort involved in starting afresh in a new land . Even now people emigrating are mostly young middle class professionals . People are still expecting for the parlaimentary election to produce somekind of change . If it doesnt and the repression and crisis harden there will be more people choosing to emigrate.

    One factor to be considered is that people emigrate when they have relatives or friends who have already made it abroad and who can help them during their transition to a new life . because formerly there was so little emigration from Venezuela those who can serve as buffeting harbours or recieving arms arent many, their number however is growing as each day passes the incentive to emigrate will become larger.

    IN australia I heard them say they sometimes will welcome older people because they act as poles of attraction to younger relatives to emigrate following their settled elders .

    • It is indeed sad that people still have hope for electoral results.This comfortable and passive attitude shows a complete disconnect from the reality of who these people are and their intentions.

  13. Well girls, I sympathize with both of you… I went and studied abroad and came back to the country. Yes, every night I think “am I crazy? why am I not in the first flight out of here?” but then the morning comes and I go to my job which it would have been really hard to get into outside. I’m actually bewildered that I was able to find something like it here.

    As you say Venezuela is one of those countries with immense opportunities to learn for those of us who chose to stay (but don’t get me wrong I might change my mind tonight).

    What’s really key here is to stop being amused by the country’s everyday nonsense and read the news in a cynical way. If you are able to achieve that, you’ll have a blast… At least until you decide to leave.

  14. Anabella y Barbara:

    I don’t understand much why you feel the need to explain why you don’t want to leave. Is there some sort of social, family, friends pressure putting you on that spot? The spot to explain why you don’t want to leave the country you love?

    I personally applaude that you stay strong, true to your beliefs, but you don’t really need to explain anything like if you were doing something wrong.

    Good luck!

  15. I like to think that one day, with a sane government in charge and sane policies enacted, Venezuela will be a top destination for foreigners to invest and settle and will even attract expat Venezuelans to return. I can see myself telling stories to the newcomers about the “crazy times” and not being believed.

    • Roy, keep dreaming…I hope you are young enough to see it.I lived in Venezuela from the 60’s till 2002, and know it well.It ain’t happening any time soon.Not as long as the middle class is as complacent as it is.

    • No. Venezuela was a warzone for 160 of its 200 years as a Republic

      Don`t expect otherwise. Crazy times are the rule here, not the exception.

    • Prefacing that with “I like to think…” did indicate a certain degree of wishful thinking. I am cautiously optimistic (by choice) but I am not naive.

    • Roy, earlier you talked about “selling out”if you wanted to.
      I might disagree a bit there – who would you sell to?
      Being in a situation where I would also like to sell my property & business I’m discovering that the only offers are in Bs. with long closings and in amounts that don’t come close to reality.
      There are no foreign investors coming anymore.

      So you sell for Bs. – then what?
      How do you convert these millions of valueless bills into hard currency in today’s market?

      I do agree with you that I also have a vision of a new Venezuela.
      Even if I sold out I would stay here in Margarita.

      Where else in the world could I live at the standard that I do?
      We spend less than the equivalent of US$300 per month.
      We don’t stand in line.
      We have almost everything we need & what we don’t have we get visitors to bring us like Lipton tea for instance.
      We use our cupo electronico not on useless toys but on things we need during the year that are not available or cost too much.

      All in all life here is not all that bad.

      • Island,

        No one is buying “businesses”, but there are plenty of people buying apartments. Mostly the buyers are Chavistas enchufados and they can and do buy in dollars. There are many people with hundreds of millions of Bolivars who need to buy something (anything!) that retains value.

        And, yes, although I don’t have the steady stream of visitors to bring me stuff, I have a pretty high standard of life for a pittance in dollars. The price for that is a life filled with a strange mixture of stress and boredom.

  16. Like our creed, our principles, or maybe the way we love and WHAT we love, there are some things that cannot be explained rationally or cannot be debated like we do with ideas or arguments. It even goes beyond the idea of patriotism (whatever that is). I think the fact you (and me) are not leaving this country is like to stay true to your principles no matter what… And when I say “no matter what” it means “when the whole world tells you not to”.

  17. My issue is the reverse. Thirty years ago I was young, single, and knew not a word of Spanish. The multinational that I worked for sent me to Venezuela for a short work assignment of a few months. Five years later, I was transferred home. Before leaving, my wide wanted me to see the majesty of her country. We went to all points in the county from the East to the west. I left with a Venezuelan Bride, a new very large extended Venezuelan family, a multitude of Venezuelan friends speaking a new language. I was very sad to leave my new adopted country.

    My Wife and I had dream to someday purchase a modest home in Venezuela and return when I retired from work. The thirty years since we left have not been kind to Venezuela. Our concern now is will we ever be able to return and fulfill our dreams.

    We still have many relatives and friends living in Venezuela. Unfortunately many of them have left or are contemplating leaving. They’ve gone to Spain, Chile, Canada, and the US. Most who could have at least moved out of Caracas to some place they felt was a bit less dangerous
    Every night the discussion around the house is about the latest news from Venezuela. What happened today in the country? The discussion almost always ends with “Do you think we’ve ever be able to go back in our life time and what is going to happen to my wife’s brothers and cousins? How are they going to survive?

    So for us it is the reverse question and feelings. Can we ever go back to what Venezuela was when we left?

  18. “On the other hand, the benefits of staying may not be as straightforward (as getting away from violence) and may be different for everyone: a profitable business with deep roots in the country, networks, a privileged lifestyle, hope, and our many afectos, like family, Frescolita and the Ávila. Truth be told, our arepas, hallacas y patacones don’t taste the same outside of Venezuela. Not in Doral, not anywhere. #ForeverGorditas”

    Yeah…Right. Profitable businesses. In a country who throws CEO´s in military prisons and torture them day and night.

    Privileged lifestyle in the country where being a Diputado Chavista with 49382 bodyguards doesnt let you avoid a violent and premature death.

    Adding insult to injury: How sad is that you trade quality of life and future growth for… arepas!. That is why venezuela became what it is today, venezuelans have no problem to adapt to extreme misery provided you feed them with basic staples while keeping them entertained.

    “Nuestra gente, nuestra comida, nuestra montaña y las direcciones que incluyen “al llegar a la mata de mango, cruzar a la derecha”

    Big. Effin. Deal. Toddler reasoning.

    “We <3 Caracas. Yes we do."

    Off course you love Caracas. If your goals in life can be met by eating arepas, you surely can adapt to the most violent and miserable city in the west hemisphere.

    At least you were sincere and determined to not to leave Venezuela. You fit neatly there

    I can resume this article in a less embarrasing way: "I wont leave because i´m too scared of being alone in the real outside world and i need to make excuses based on how i love arepas to stay."

      • I was expecting a decent article, up to this blog´s reputation. Writing “i love arepas #ForeverGorditas” just killed it for me.

        I´ve left Venezuela months ago and the struggle is real. I came to realize that if you really want to grow as a person, you need to be able to endure these sort of difficulties. Technically, you lose everything and need to start from scratch. Being overseas change your tolerance levels (that is why Miami´s cubans are so strong in their political views on the island).

        When you start to get used to a “regular” country with little levels of violence and a society bound within normal levels of sanity, despising venezuelan way of life begins to grow inside you. And the venezuelan way of life embraces the premises written in this post: I don´t give a damn because i have arepas.

        Such thinking framework is what KEEPS the country sunk in a perpetual hole.

        I should add that i don´t criticize people for not leaving, there are plenty of reasons to do so. I criticize wielding shallow reasons such as “arepas”, “El avila”, like if venezuela was not enduring horrible times. Holding such views expose the authors as careless people.

        • I find it simply awful that under the circumstances people who actually consider themselves serious opposition at the same time stay on for perks and privilege….staying on for family , love, lack of money to leave etc or just about any other reason is reasonable to me, but not those reasons.It shows a lack of consequential values and weakens the strength of the opposition inside Venezuela.

          The main reason Venezuela is in the pickle it is in is because the comfortable privileged classes were indifferent to the pain of the underprivileged.I was witness to that on a daily basis both when I had money and when I didn’t.I remember a psychiatrist friend who unlike me was a native Venezuelan once told me that most of us from the North got on well with both the poor and the rich…but with the middle class or even worse the upper middle class, and the ” nouveau riche ” there was often ( not always of course) a strong conflict of values.

          I blame these confortable classes, not because they have money, but through their acceptance of unearned privilege.Of their tendencies to aprovechar,Venezuela is not a meritocracy.

          It is more than blame I speak of here…it is the awareness that with these reasons for staying on in Venezuela will make it that much harder to rouse the complacent middle class to fight for the country within,Better that they fight outside the country, and let those who find life in Venezuela truly unbearable to take the reins from within.

        • Wow, chill, man. Take it down a notch. I’m an expat for 12 years now and I can see why loving the seemingly small details of life can be a factor. And what’s wrong with liking el Avila? It’s not shallow to want to or long to see it every morning, or hike it on weekends. I’m close to the White Mountains here in New England and even though I’ve hiked to the top of Mount Washington, but I would rather be on top of el picacho de Galipan. I do realize some of us long for a country that no longer exists or that has changed dramatically and might be in some ways unrecognizable. However, to conclude that the only way to grow as a person is to endure the difficulties of emigration?! Please.

    • James Hunt– Better not to give reasons as they sound like excuses. Sometimes it is not so simple as to leave everything and go. It is a difficult decision. One cannot just leave if they have no family abroad to go to so most have to suffer through until change comes. Change will come when the military stops suffering from their moral blindness. The people may want to do something but who will bell the cat?

      • Exactly. Claro y raspao.

        Not leaving surely has deep reasons. Attempting to explain them lightly is not worth it. And also, change will only come with military support. Llore o patalee.

  19. The truth is: el mundo da muchas vueltas.

    Cuando yo era joven, hacen unos cuantos años, recién graduaita de la UCV, tenia toda la fortaleza y las ganas de echarle pichon a mi pais. Tal cual ustedes hoy día, a pesar de que la situación no era ni la sombra. Pase 10 años echándole pierna, trabajando duro, con ética, lo que implico muchas peleas con las autoridades de turno (de la IV).

    Pasaron 10 años. Nacieron mis hijos, y de cierta manera me sentí mucho mas vulnerable en ese medio ambiente agresivo, en donde solo el vivo que robaba y sobornaba parecía progresar. Mis hijos me hicieron redimensionar mis prioridades y mis fronteras.

    Salí de ahi hace 17 años, y todos los día me repito que, a pesar de lo duro que puede ser el proceso de adaptación al principio, fue la mejor decision que pudimos haber tomado.

    No se cierren a las posibilidades porque uno nunca sabe.

    • Cada cabeza es un mundo. Lo digo porque el razonamiento que expones, que es perfectamente válido, yo lo he visto también al revés: “si fuese joven me lanzaba a la aventura de ver mundo y buscarme un sitio en él, pero con la edad que tengo, yo ya no quiero vagabundear por ahi”.

      Cada quien ve las cosas desde su punto de vista. Aunque haya realidades objetivas (como “en que sitio tengo mas probabilidades de que me maten”), luego cada quien saca su conclusión según la única persona que puede decidir, que es uno mismo.

      • Asi es.
        Mi punto es que la vida y las circunstancias cambian todo el tiempo, y uno tiene que estar abierto a adaptarse a esos cambios.

  20. Ah, Caracas. Venezuela’s own New York City.

    I can see why they wouldn’t want to leave, especially if they’re in an above-the-average financial place. Caracas seems so, SO different from the rest of the country; they have all of the high-class, first-world stuff that we get; The glorious Caracas Master Race has never had electric power rationing as most of us peasants that live in other states have had to, I’ve heard reports they have little to no shortage of food and first-necessity products, and so many more wonderful stories from that north-eastern side of our beautiful country.

    However, I don’t buy that “We don’t leave because we don’t want to” façade. You said it yourselves, “When an opportunity arises, we might consider it. It hasn’t.”, so it isn’t too much of “We don’t want to leave” so much as a “we can’t leave”.

    And yet, my real bone to pick with this article resides in the fact that the only quote unquote “believable” reason you’ve given for not leaving is because you’re actually able to work in an area that doesn’t require you to lower your pants and shake that fat ass to the Government so it can fuck you hard like it’s Fifty Shades of Grey.

    As a future filmmaker/journalist/radio personality/TV producer, I can’t even begin to express my disconfort with the current situation. There is an entire law with a bajillion articles that targets the people in the fields I’d like to be when I graduate, and that will soon target me. Not to mention that with the current economy, the only way you can get the proper fundings for a project in my area is through the Government, thus, you need to accomodate to the “ideals of the Revolution”.

    I don’t want to live in a country where my livelihood would feel threatened at any point in time with no means of defense against any damages that may come, product of a “difference of ideals” or some bullshit. And neither me, nor a thousand people that share my concerns, are cowards for it.

  21. While we are on the subject, what is everyone doing with real estate/business interests? Selling at reduced prices for USD to be sent to an outside account, or hanging on? The corporations and the connected seem to think that is where to hold your assets and hoping for a better situation. Who cares if you can sell a property in Caracas for huge amounts of play money, if you can’t get it out?

  22. it is quite telling of human nature, and unfortunately of the worsening of the worst parts of it in Venezuelan discourse, how quickly are so many people jumping to insulting the writers of the post.

    Who, btw, didnt even said one bad thing about anybody that decided to leave. Not one veiled attack, not one accusation of cowardice, nothing.

    Meanwhile they get called everything from stupid to dishonest to deluded or cowards.

    And that is when, in theory, we all here are on the same side.

    Ironically, this was one of the reasons I left – how quickly things were devolving into a free-for-all display of hatred and resentment, in which everybody felt the need to be more “arrechito” than anybody else.

    Maybe many of you left Venezuela due to chavismo, but it seems Venezuela, in particular the chavista vision, no matter if you see yourself in the other side, never left you.

  23. Relatives and friends who work in transnational companies speak of the problem posed to their management by the large outflow of young professionals leaving their jobs to move abroad . They can be replaced ( because they ve all had to reduce their staffing in response to worse conditions) but they have had to create new rules with their foreign affiliates so that they dont hire away their young professionals to go and work with them outside venezuela.

    In the medical profession its a flood of young phisicians moving abroad where they dont have that much of a problem finding placement. Whole areas of specializations are being shut down because of lack of prospective students .

    Its more difficult for those in their mature years whose children are already young adults , but for young people with the credentials and acquaintance with past foreign sojourns and some command of the language the temptation to emigrate is almost irresistible.

    Most everyone in my inmediate circle of family and friends have children who have emigrated , moreover most of my best friends are already living abroad . I think that for Venezuelan middle class professionals what really makes them leave is not only the thought that things right now are so difficult and insecure but that they appear to be getting worse and worse without any sign that they will improve any time soon.!!

    • That kind of issue is not exclusive to Venezuela – I see it happening a lot in Spain in IT, basically if you are good chances are our foreign clients will make you an offer, which of course will be at the bare minimum 2x what you make here.

      Of course, the incentives for leaving Venezuela are a bit more pressing. And while telling your clients not to poach people from you may be necessary… in the end is kinda like the whole exchange control situation; trying to stop the forces generated by the situation itself with arbitrary commands.

      But well, it is not like a company can actually fix the situation so their employees dont want to leave….

  24. I assume you don’t have kids. When/if that happens you may want to consider/regret your decision.

    My intentions were always to come back until I have my first kid and understood I could not.

    This decision haunts me every day, though, and is source of immense guilt.

    Saludos.

    • There is no better satisfaction than to see your kids grow up in freedom, with opportunities, being able to walk to school, being able to say what they think freely, in an safe environment of tolerance.

  25. Educated people with certain means left Vzla a long time ago and will continue to leave, as soon as they can, for simple reasons, like not to get killed for a pair of shoes. Forget about escasez or colas or traffic or nothing working properly, or the impossibility of doing business with fair rules and some sense of ethics.

    O f all my friends and family, very, very few have not left. Why? Invariably because they have some family business that still somehow produces (only 1 family I know) or simply because they can’t (visas, money issues).

    That’s the fact, Jack. We all miss El Avila and Choroni, but to die climbing down one day,, no thanks.

  26. The cuban system is getting implemented in a very high pace now. So probably when you want to leave this december, you probably will have to handover you belongings to the guardia at the border.
    It’s just sad and it keeps getting sadder.

  27. Im also here against all pronostics (my little sister, my best friend and many of my schoolmates live abroad) and as you guys I have no plans for leaving the country. However I think that in order to create opportunities for and in Venezuela its important to expend a couple of year abroad somehow on any moment. Its because 2 reasons:

    1) International dynamic may come with different perspectives and ways to do things. We’re embeded in our own sociopolitical novel and in some ways are unable to see how fast the world is moving.

    “) Because in some way I dont want to get to be so “psicosiado” that whenever I get to leave I end up hating the country, its people and its politicians. Its better to leave when we still miss this rather than when we could not even hear the name of the country.

    PD: Simon Diaz song chill me up. Thanks for that.

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