When Cadivi and the First World Collide

You try to explain to a prestigious gringo university that unless they falsify the major on your admissions letter your government won't let you go there.

My friend Ignacio is a nice, serious-minded young Venezuelan professional who likes to err on the side of rectitude: the type of guy who consciously avoids cutting in line at the bank and only goes through the 10-items or less checkout lane when he has ten items or less. His driver’s certificado medico was actually the result of an eye exam and did not involve a happy envelope. He would never kick a child for cake ingredients.

Some years ago, after a gruelling, months’ long  process of standardized tests, applications, interviews and essays, Ignacio was admitted to two prestigious higher learning institutions in the U.S., Stansbury University and Harlow University, where he hoped to further his understanding of International Economics on his way to a Master’s Degree. Way to go, Ignacio.

The rub? in order to go to school abroad, Ignacio needed dollars. Of course. Thankfully, the helpful people over at Cadivi had devised an ingeniously modern and totally transparent system whose sole objective was to help and support all those seeking an education to reach their noble goal while keeping our national economy afloat.

It was really not Cadivi’s fault that anyone requesting tuition to finance their higher learning must deal with the manila folders, the requisite stickers, the color coding, the alphabetizing of bank statements, and the starting all over again because of a missed coma on page 17.

Don’t shoot the messenger, they’re just trying to help.

And anyone complaining about the fact that one’s access to funding for a Master’s degree was only possible if your chosen field of study was contained within the pre-approved list that Cadivi, again, helpfully publishes on its website…well, that’s just arrogant. Surely this list was the result of objective criteria that us regular citizens are not privy to, and, really, who are we to question the government?

No one really says it, but obviously an integral part of the Cadivi process, as with any other process related to public services in Venezuela, involves fudging some facts. Nothing serious. In fact, nothing, period. It’s totally normal and expected and harmless and I don’t see what the big deal is.

It turns out that Ignacio’s chosen discipline, International Economic Development, was not a Cadivi-approved field for graduate studies. So good, law-abiding Ignacio proceeded to do the logical thing: he called the Stansbury admissions department and matter-of-factly asked that they lie in the official acceptance letter the Venezuelan government would receive, and just pretend that he was to study Social Economics instead.

The reply?

“Mr. Ignacio, we don’t do that sort of thing, and frankly, we’re offended that you would even ask.”


Its not like Ignacio was asking them to do anything that illegal… just to fake an official document making up a major that didn’t exist. On the Venezuelan moral gradient, that’s not even a wrist-slappable offense. He wasn’t trafficking drugs, or stealing public funds, or bribing Supreme Tribunal magistrates to incarcerate innocent judges. So it’s bad enough that Venezuelan schools are crumbling, but now foreign universities pooh-pooh our harmless attempts at undermining their code of ethics, all in the name of a post-graduate degree? What has this world come to?

Now that I think about it, Ignacio should’ve saved himself the humiliation of Stansbury’s feigned indignation, as well as a bunch of wasted time and money, and given up on his useless International Economics study plan. Everyone knows you could make a lot more money while adding no value whatsoever to our national economy in the exciting field of permuteo. You don’t need any sort of degree for that, just a pliable value system and a knack for looking the other way.

And in those things, we Venezuelans, willingly or not, all have PhDs.


Emiliana Duarte

Emi is a cook, a lover of animals, politics, expletives, and Venezuela. She is the co-founder of Caracas Chronicles LLC and Managing Editor if the site until December 2017.