About a month ago, Juan saw this tweet:
Correction: I have met 1 university-educated Venezuelan under 35 who isn't trying to leave the country, @Janabadi
— Anatoly Kurmanaev (@AKurmanaev) January 19, 2015
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.
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.
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…
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.