Millions of people have left Venezuela in the last four years, many leaving their homes and possessions behind, hoping one day to return. That’s given birth to a new profession in Caracas, as CGTN’s Mary Triny Mena reports.
The apartment is empty but it does not feel that way. A family of four owns this Caracas condo but they’ve left the country and gone to Canada. Isabel Diaz is taking care of their residence and everything in it, for the day when the time is right to return home.
“There are so many memories of those people,” Isabel Diaz, a member of the cleaning crew said. “ Preserving all their things is my job. I’m keeping everything clean and beautiful like the moment they left.”
She’s part of the crew who work for Emiliana Romero, an entrepreneur who saw a business opportunity in the houses and apartments of Venezuelans who’ve left the country.
“I provide maintenance like they are still living here,” Emiliana. “I keep the house as if they are coming home tomorrow and everything’s exactly the same as it was when they left.”
Several times a month, Romero and her four employees check every detail. They dust and clean, fix the pipes, and pay the bills.
According to the U.N., Venezuela faces the biggest mass migration in Latin America to date. Four million of its citizens have left the country since 2015 and that number is expected to rise to as high as eight million by the end of 2020.
Migration has left empty apartments and houses across the country. In the capital at night, in homes that once were lit up with life, millions of windows are dark.
“Now in Caracas, there are buildings with 50 or 60 percent of occupancy. Compare that to years ago when 80 or 90 percent were occupied,” says David Briceno, Real Estate Agent.
Many people would like to sell their homes, but prices are dropping and they want to hold on until prices come back up. Briceno said inattention and abandonment are key factors for the loss in market value. Vandalism, theft, and squatters are concerns for those who want to sell, as well as those who are hoping to return.
“Insecurity is the main fear of homeowners, insecurity. That your property can be expropriated or somebody breaks into your house,” Emiliana said.
Now, homeowners in Venezuela have options with professional property caregivers like Romero and her team who guarantee even the plants will be alive when their clients return home.