Bigotry against Venezuelans in exile


María Oropeza
Versión en español

It hurts what happens to my countrymen abroad. I will tell you an experience I had. I wanted to keep it to myself, but today I share it it to at least leave in the imagination the reality that many of my fellow citizens suffer abroad:

When I traveled to Lima, Peru, I made it by land to Cúcuta, here I stopped to take a bus to Bogotá and then a plane. Anyway.  I was at the bus stop by some restaurants in a makeshift terminal. I suppose that because of the diaspora, 98% of the travelers were Venezuelans. Our bus was delayed, so we decided to ask a lady from one of the restaurants what happened.

The not-so-empathetic lady, spoke without shouting but with venom, “That happens because the Venezuelans are thieves!” My face was making question marks. She continued: “Get away from my business, we are tired of you all, thieves and bums!”

The irony is that most of those who were consuming in their business were Venezuelans.

Obviously I was not going to take up a pick and shovel with that lady, nor was I going deal with the issue of xenophobia, although it hurt me a lot. I was just passing and I wasn’t an immigrant, but I could barely respond: I remember that Venezuela also received Colombians at the height of their civil war. The honest and hardworking are greater in number than thieves and bums.

But no, they literally pushed us out of that business.

I told myself over and over: Chin up. I know that we’ve made mistakes, but we work, we apply what we’ve learned, and what we don’t know, we invent.  Women don’t gripe about being heads of the family and men don’t mind getting up 5:00 am.  Whether it be serving coffee or harvesting coffee beans in the mountains to put food on the table, young people are able to obtain job titles at 21-22 years old.

No, I deny that people can believe that there are only thieves and bums in Venezuela. We are not all like that. Damn that Chávez!

Well, I arrived in Bogotá and told a Colombian friend, who very kindly let me stay the night, who told me: “I tell those people that the Venezuelans not only will they ‘take jobs away from Colombians’ as in the case of some, but they also come to give jobs.  For example, Farmatodo is a Venezuelan chain store, right? Well, Venezuelan entrepreneurs brought those jobs to Colombia where they previously didn’t exist.

The point is that there are obviously good and bad people in this life. Judging a citizen for his nationality is very low. In the past, as a Venezuelan I felt invaded by Chinese, Arabs, Colombians, but never in my life did I think about campaigning or protesting against those immigrants.

Nowadays, many countries are falling into chanting and jeering “Foreigners out of Venezuela!”  I have no choice but to continue to reproach the socialist system, which has driven more than half my friends and family and friends outside these borders, working whatever jobs they can find, with insufficient pay, asking for loans, crying and missing their family, all because here there is no fertile land to sow their dreams.

It’s a terrible government tat forces its citizens to flee to foreign lands; they’ve fled in buses and some, even walking.  Yes, walking from one country to another!

But they also know that there are children who do not have the capacity to mediate, to understand, to tolerate and change language amidst the pseudo-xenophobic protests against innocent people.

Those of us who have chosen to stay, work tirelessly every day so that Venezuela is free and prosperous, and we can open doors for millions of Venezuelans so that we can bring back our talented, hardworking national treasures back home.

This fight has cost us too much. It’s terribly sad and terribly annoying, but we are giving it our all.  And you know what? We will win.

I don’t doubt for a moment that Venezuela will triumph!

María Oropeza is a Venezuelan civil rights lawyer, a dedicated libertarian, and the National Youth Coordinator for the classical liberal party Vente Venezuela.

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