An estimated 150,000 Venezuelans are now living in Panama, hoping to leave economic troubles behind. But many say political uncertainties back home continue to haunt them.
CCTV’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.
Venezuelans living in Panama follow turmoil at homeAn estimated 150,000 Venezuelans are now living in Panama, hoping to leave economic troubles behind. But many say political uncertainties back home continue to haunt them.
Roberto Arias, an cafe owner, was among the first large wave of Venezuelans to arrive a decade ago. “We were looking for a country where we can grow and start a business. Venezuela wasn’t giving us that opportunity at that moment,” Arias said.
In the years since Arias arrived, the economic situation in Venezuela worsened, and many others have followed him.
Venezuelans are now one of the largest expatriate groups in Panama-roughly one in every thirty people here. And most closely follow events back home.
The TV here is always on and for the most part, shows nothing but news.
Father William Rodriguez, a popular priest in this community, came from Venezuela four years ago. “It enrages me. I feel helpless, watching what’s happening and seeing it get worse. And the world doesn’t listen. They don’t hear the pain of the people,”said the father.
Staying connected is now easier than ever. The younger arrivals use newer technologies.
“Naturally, I cry like a baby. It’s your mother, your grandmothers, your nephews that are over there. It’s people you love, that are hungry and suffering. And they’re having a rough time. And that’s depressing,” said Alejandro Riera, Venezuelan Immigrant to Panama.
Many leave just as quickly as they came – especially for the young, the news back home is quickly getting old.