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Venezuelans abroad anxiously watch events unfolding at home

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When Maria Eugenia Pirona moved from Venezuela to Spain over six months ago she had lost hope that things would get better in her homeland. A lawyer and former civil servant, Pirona had seen her comfortable life ruined by the deepening political and economic strife.

Her pension was cut and, as with many Venezuelans, hyperin ation made her savings worthless. And a er she was attacked by a group of thugs aligned with the Socialist government for her opposition to the governments led by Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro, she decided that moving was the only choice. So she sold her car and bought a plane ticket to Spain, leaving her elderly mother and house behind.

But ever since opposition leader Juan Guaido declared himself interim president last week, garnering support and recognition from a long list of countries including the United States, Pirona is hopeful she might soon be able to return home to Caracas.

“What happiness, freedom has arrived, we are removing the usurper,” Pirona said on Wednesday as she marched with thousands of Venezuelans in Barcelona against Maduro a few moments a er Guaido had declared himself the new leader. “We will return to Venezuela to rebuild our country. All of us who have emigrated to other countries, we will help Venezuela to lift itself up.”

Pirona is part of an enormous out ow of people from Venezuela in recent years as its economy and democratic institutions have crumbled.

According to the International Organization for Migration, the Venezuelan diaspora has skyrocketed from 695,000 in 2015 to over 2.3 million by last year. Neighboring Colombia has seen its Venezuelan population soar from 48,000 to 870,000 in that period, while thousands more have edtootherLatinAmerican countries and the United States.

The number of people born in Venezuela who live in Spain has jumped from 165,000 in 2015 to 255,000 last year, according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics.

MANU FERNANDEZ | AP
In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019 le photo, people gather during a protest against Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro and in support of an opposition leader self-proclaimed as the interim president of the country in Madrid, Spain.

Pirona came to Spain because of the language and cultural links, and because Venezuela took in many Spaniards eeing Gen. Francisco Franco’s dictatorship from 1939 to 1975, she said. But her move was still challenging.

Like many of her fellow Venezuelans who cross the Atlantic Ocean to Spain, Pirona is an educated professional who has been forced to do whatever it takes to get by. She says it’s hard at her age, 55, to start over and she’s cleaning houses as she waits for her asylum application to be processed. “But I prefer that a thousand times to suffering and being persecuted and seeing my Venezuelan people suffer so much.”

Ricardo Caballero moved from San Cristobal, Venezuela, to Barcelona 17 years ago a er Chavez had been re-elected. Caballero worked several jobs and even slept in the streets before he finally found stability. Today he works as an athletics teacher and is married with two children. He’s also helped countless relatives, friends and strangers move from Venezuela, often giving them a place to sleep on his couch.

Caballero and Pirona met at church. She was crying. He recognized her Venezuelan accent and offered help. Soon enough he found her a house-cleaning job.

“I’ve tried to help them so they don’t have to go through what I have lived, so that they are not tricked,” said Caballero, 42, who was scammed in his early days in Barcelona when he rented a room by internet only to find that the room didn’t exist. He doesn’t think about moving back to Venezuela anymore after establishing his life in Spain. But the latest political developments also make him hopeful that some Venezuelans could return to their homeland.

Pirona and Caballero have been watching the news anxiously. On Saturday, the Spanish government, along with fellow European Union members Germany, France and Britain,gave Maduro an ultimatum. “Spain is giving the government of Nicolas Maduro eight days to call free, transparent and democratic elections, and if that does not occur, Spain will recognize Juan Guaido as the president charged with carrying out those elections,” Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said in a televised address.

Although Spain did not immediately recognize Guaido as the legitimate leader of Venezuela like the U.S., Canada, Brazil and other countries did, Pirona is very pleased with the country that welcomed her.

“They support us and are not OK with what is going on in Venezuela,” she said. “I am very thankful to Spain.”

2 Comments

2 Responses to “Venezuelans abroad anxiously watch events unfolding at home”

  1. Chryssy Berry from USA on February 5th, 2019 1:13 am

    After 12years of marriage, me and my husband has been into one quarrel or the other until he finally left me and moved to California to be with another woman. I felt my life was over and my kids thought they would never see their father again. i tried to be strong just for the kids but i could not control the pains that torments my heart, my heart was filled with sorrows and pains because i was really in love with my husband. Every day and night i think of him and always wish he could come back to me, I was really worried and i needed help, so i searched for help online and I came across a website that suggested that Dr Unity can help get ex back fast. So, I felt I should give him a try. I contacted him and he told me what to do and i did it then he did a Love spell for me. 11hours later, my husband really called me and told me that he miss me and the kids so much, So Amazing!! So that was how he came back that same day,with lots of love and joy,and he apologized for his mistake,and for the pain he caused me and the kids. Then from that day,our Marriage was now stronger than how it were before, All thanks to Dr Unity. he is so powerful and i decided to share my story on the internet that Dr.Unity is real spell caster who i will always pray to live long to help his children in the time of trouble, if you are here and you need your ex lover back or save your marriage fast. Do not cry anymore, contact this powerful spell caster Dr.Unity now. Here’s his contact: Call/WhatsApp him: +2348071622464 ,Email him at: Unityspelltemple@gmail.com

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Venezuelans abroad anxiously watch events unfolding at home