By Laura Bustos Martinez
“Venezuela is the best country in the world. The best weather, the best landscapes, a big amount of natural resources, the warmest people always ought to help, the best food,” Jaime Acuna said, a Venezuelan Missouri Valley College student. Acuna came two years ago to try to find a better future. “However I don’t want to be in Venezuela anymore.”
Venezuela is on everyone’s lips. From 18 years ago until now, when the current government took charge of the country, everything started to deteriorate.
According to several statistics from different international and Venezuelan sources as PROVEA, DATANALISIS, CNN, BBC, RCN, ONU, SENIAT, SAIME, CORPOELEC, and the testimonies from Venezuelans citizens who are not blind for a political tendency, everything has faded and depreciated.
Everything but the corruption, the underworld, the crimes, the insecurity, the drug dealing, the vandalism and the lies.
“I would have loved the idea of staying in my country, live and die there, in my land,” Acuna said. “But since the situation is unbeatable, I made the decision of leaving it, in order to look for a brighter future.”
Before the current government took control of the country, young Venezuelans had their life figured out. Go to school, go to college, find a job, get married, buy a house, have children, and that was it. The perfect happy life, a life everyone wished to live. Everyone used to have the opportunity of succeeded in their own hands.
“I cannot lie, everything was not perfect, but people were happy and united,” Acuna said.
Venezuelans did not realize how good what they had was, and they look for a transformation. That is the reason why government changed. That is how Hugo Chavez achieved power in 1998. Since then, many political decisions, socialistic and communistic oriented, took place and started to form part of the Venezuelan life.
The country started to get worse, step by step, year by year. Venezuelan monetary unit, the bolivar, suffered several devaluations. Also, monetary exchanges systems and values were stablished. The black market dollar started. The price of gas and all the other services strongly rose up. Food and other goods shortage started and every minute it intensified even more.
Inflation gets higher every day. Colleges and universities have no resources to function properly. Job opportunities are politicized. The base salary is not enough to cover the basic needs, since the minimum wage is 4150 bolivars ($415) according to the “official” exchange.
It is necessary to highlight that there are five currency exchanges in Venezuela, because the government money control policies. The five exchanges values are: designated to travel, pleasure, and tourism; international students and activities; SICAD I; SICAD II; and the black market value, which is the most common one used and the most realistic and applicable one, where one dollar is 1164.71 bolivars.
The black market is the most used because there are not enough dollars in the country for people, due to the corruption. There are many autocratic and problematic steps to accomplish to obtain dollars. So people end up acquiring them in the black market.
Furthermore, hospitals suffer for lack of resources. There are no medicines in the pharmacies. All these situations got even worse when Nicolas Maduro took Hugo Chavez’s place.
“He is even more incompetent than his predecessor,” Acuna said.
Venezuela’s future was and is blurred.
“I was forced to run away from that situation, since I had the opportunity thanks to my parents’ support, my hard work, and soccer,” Acuna said. “When I saw that panorama I made the decision to leave, but in order to do that I needed dollars, so I started to get more additional jobs, besides the one I already had, to be able to buy as many dollars as I could and then, finally come to the United States.”
The road was not easy for Acuna.
“I had four jobs,” Acuna said. “Two as a soccer and swimming coach, and two as waiter in two different restaurants. Fortunately I was able to find a sport scholarship and accelerate the process of my departure.”
Acuna has no time to rest. He knows what is hard and sacrifices.
“I needed and I still need more money in order to pay for college, I needed and I need to take all the credits possible, and pass all my classes with good grades to be able to graduate earlier and save money,” Acuna said. “That is why I work like crazy in the cafeteria, waking up every day at 5:30 a.m. That is why I also applied to be a RA, because since the moment I chose to leave Venezuela I knew that I would need to work harder than I have ever done, but knowing the sacrifices worth it.”
“Even with all those chores, disadvantages, costs and lost, I am still better than I would be back home,” Acuna said. “That is why people left Venezuela if they have the chance, because now there is no chances to have a quality life if you stay there being young.”