I am Venezuelan, I got to Mexico almost three years ago along with my children who at that time were 16, 14 and 2 years old. Right now I’m not working because I still don’t have my work permission. Since I got here, I’ve been doing informal activities, such as consultancies for entrepreneurship for kids and teenagers, also piñatas and other crafts. With that I generated my income, but now, with the pandemic, they are all detained.
Yes, I have several university degrees, I am a graduate in administration and a lawyer. In fact, my last years of work experience in Venezuela were as a university teacher. Nevertheless, when you leave your country you face a new reality: I am no longer home, so, what can I do? Initiate with whatever comes, with whatever I can, while you have the legality to work, while you get your residency and you can opt for better opportunities.
I’m passionate about teaching, and it is one of the things I miss the most. That is why when I had the opportunity to teach here in Mexico I took the chance, because I love it.
What other things do I miss? Food of course, specially filled potatoes. They are just amazing. The filled potatoes and the arepas, which are the icon food of Venezuelan. Here in Mexico they have really tasty food too, I’ve really enjoyed eating the food from here. They remind me of the dishes my mom used to make. I miss my mom’s food. I miss coming home and drinking coffee with my parents and speaking about anything. I even miss the fights.
We left Venezuela because we were forced by insecurity and shortage. No matter how much you worked, it was just not enough. You could spend hours waiting in line to buy whatever you needed, sometimes you could afford it and many times you could not. And when you couldn’t afford it, you had to wait until next week, because according to your identification card you are assigned to a specific day in which you are allowed to buy. In the moments of urgency, sometimes you had to buy it outside from whoever had it, at the price they wanted.
By despair, I think many people were forced to steal and become criminals. There was so much insecurity that it got to the point where I lost the count of how many times my kids and I were robbed. So when my brother told me that the situation kept getting worse, I was unpleasantly surprised.
The primary factor in getting out of my country was not the insecurity or shortage -even though they were determinant-, it was that my husband was fired, and I wasn’t being hired anywhere. Why? Because I got banned. I got banned for doing a report. A report that cost the candidacy to one of those who was supported by Chávez. I used to work on the government, -the regimen! Because I can’t even call it a government.-, on one occasion, for not agreeing to do what they wanted, they placed me on a list where they called me an opponent, and as an opponent you have no right to receive benefits, not even a job.
We decided to go to Chile, but my husband got a job offer in Monterrey, so we came to Mexico. I came with concern because it was not easy, even though given the circumstances, I already had a home, I had my own car, and leaving all your things and putting all of your life in two suitcases it’s very, very complicated.
“You have to leave your memories, you have to leave your pictures and the most important, you have to leave your family because you can’t bring them with you.”
Yes, my family is still in Venezuela, and I’m the only one who’s in Mexico. My sister has wanted to come but she doesn’t have enough money. How did I make it? It was difficult, most of it because I didn’t want to come without my three sons, and in general the situation with the procedures and the necessary documents is really complicated, because at that moment you needed government permission for the authorization to take your kids with you, even when you get to your destination, you can be returned at the discretion of the attending officer. You can lose all the effort, the travel money, expenses. You can lose everything.
My biggest concern with my family is that I can’t do anything for them, but send them money. The feeling of knowing that if something happens you are not going to be there, is horrible. It’s not easy to get to another country where you don’t know anyone, in which in some emergency you have nobody to call. You can feel very lonely.
Nevertheless, although I don’t have my family here with me, I’ve formed a family with my mexican friends and neighbors. Of course it’s been difficult to make relationships, there are people who discriminate against you, by the only fact of being Venezuelan, as if you are a plague. But as well as I’ve met people like that, I’ve also met very kind people who have helped me. So yes, I can say that I feel at home, because home is not a where but a who. Home is having someone to vent with, laugh with, someone to lean on, and Mexico gave me that home.