Economic crisis forces Venezuelans to make difficult choices

World Today

Economic crisis forces Venezuelans to make difficult choices

The economic crisis in Venezuela is forcing many people to make difficult choices on whether to stay together and struggle to survive, or split up their families and go to other countries where they can find work.

CGTN’s Nitza Soledad Perez reports on one grandmother in Miami, Florida who is torn between love for her family and her urge to return home.

Many Venezuelans living abroad are backing opposition leader and self-proclaimed interim president, Juan Guaidó. But other Venezuelans are not so sure he is the answer to the country’s problems. Venezuelans very divided politically and that polarization seems to have followed them to exile. Miami, Florida, which is known as the US capital of the Venezuelan opposition, was the site of a protest against possible US military intervention. 

“Hands off Venezuela, hands off Venezuela!” many chanted. “This is something that the U.S. has done before in our countries, in the past, so they are predictable, we know what they want to do,” said Venezuelan native Alexa Weber. “They’re trying to overthrow the government that’s not in line with them because they want to take the oil, our coltan and they want to take our gold, they want to control resources. Isn’t this what they did in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Libya?” she demanded. 

Many Venezuelans are struggling to survive the economic crisis gripping their country and many families are indefinitely separated. In Miami, a call to help a Venezuelan grandmother who needed to return home.

Rosario Cestero is 71-years-old. She came to Miami from the city of Maracaibo to visit one of her sons and her grandchildren, whom she had not seen in four years. When asked why she would consider going back instead of staying with her family in Miami, Rosario simply replied,  “I have my little old man over there and I have to take care of him, to help him. I needed to leave to see what I could bring back to him. We need to find food for both of us.”

Rosario’s “her little old man” is her husband of 50 years, Carlos Luis. Rosario was ashamed to admit that their diet consists of plain rice and beans because they can’t afford anything else. Three of her four children are living abroad, one in Peru and two in the U.S. But the fear that she may never see them again is not as strong as her urge to return home.

“We have hope that we can achieve peace, that things finally get resolved,” she said. “I hope this young man who assumed the presidency is able to succeed. I just pray to God that this crisis in Venezuela gets solved once and for all. But I can’t just stay here. I love Venezuela too much and I can’t leave my country.”

The local community donated dry goods, batteries, and cornmeal to make Venezuelan “arepas.” She was ecstatic that she had food to take back, but sad because she doesn’t know if she will ever see her relatives in the U.S. again. Her children can’t go back to Venezuela because they’ve asked for political asylum.

While trying to hide her tears she confided, “Back home, I look at their pictures every day. I used to prepare lunch on Sundays, and they would come and spend the entire day with us.” Rosario Cedeno is now back home and wonders if she will have another chance to cook for her children and grandchildren again.  

Angela Chavez discusses Venezuela political crisis

CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Angela Chavez, associate director at the Latin America Center at the Atlantic Council, about the Venezuela political crisis.