A tough sell

Chavismo's take to brain drain.

Chavismo’s take on brain drain.

Recent polls have been conveying an alarming reality: 10% of Venezuelans are looking into emigrating. These same polls showed that in 2002 and 2004 only 4% harbored these ideas.

I don’t want to dwell on why people are leaving, as the reality is obvious. The question we need to ask ourselves is how we can make them come back.

To a great extent, chavismo has failed Venezuelans due to its inability to attract capable human capital. Chavismo today is a movement devoid of intellectual, thinkers, managers or technicians – in short, anyone who values the effort to implement policies or plans. Nobody in chavismo seems to value the journey of work, much less the attention to detail that is required to achieve some modicum of perfection.

A democratic alternative to chavismo has been posing itself as more capable, more technical. But the ranks within the movement are thinning every month that passes, and those who remain inside the country are simply not enough to tackle the immense structural crisis our country has sunk in since the 80s.

The Venezuelan diaspora is anywhere between half million to over a million. If you consider that we will not rid ourselves of the governing clan in at least a few years, and given the desire of Venezuelans to emigrate, those numbers are only going to increase. Thanks to the oil-sponsored brain drain called Misión Cadivi Estudiante, 44% of Venezuelans living in the OECD countries have a high level of education. In the US this has made the Venezuelan minority the group with the highest level of education among Hispanics. In fact, Venezuelans in the US beat the US average in terms of percentage of the population with high levels of education 49% to 27%!

If we are to deal with the structural problems in Venezuela, we need these people desperately. But we don’t need everyone.

We need the good ones, the bright ones. When looking at where certain types of Venezuelan have gone and the reputation we have in those places, one notices a few things. For instance, in Panama, Venezuelans have an awful reputation –  we’re basically lazy scammers. In Colombia it is quite the opposite: hard working, prepared, and entrepreneurial. The difference is the type of environment the two places have created. In Panama, you have a tax haven. In Colombia you have a nation in construction, with high taxes but real opportunities for growth.

The first challenge is to create that environment back home. What policies can we set forth to foster a productive environment? Do we want to be more like a tax haven or do we want to be more productive?

It won’t be enough for top-notch oilmen to come work for PDVSA. An environment that allows them to do what they did in Colombia and Canada will be crucial, one that allows them to invest and manage their own oil company. When it comes to the diaspora in academia, the answer is that professors deserve much more. If Venezuela is to have world-class academics, then the university budgetary situation needs a huge overhaul. That will require an open mind in order to completely rethink the model for university education. Entrepreneurs will ask for infrastructure, ports, grids, fast internet, and protection for their investment.

The second challenge is how to ask someone to come back to a country still suffering the same illnesses that made them leave. What can you offer?

One can offer that you will be valued, that your skills will matter. The talent needs to feel that their years of toiling anonymously in a strange land will be swapped for the feeling of being acknowledged in their homeland. We must pledge to voice the success stories of noble, outstanding Venezuelans. We won’t be able to offer a pay like that you have in the OECD home you have made. What Venezuela can offer to those that are gone is an insurmountable challenge. That, and that your mom will be able to see her grandchildren every Sunday.

But is that enough?

Venezuela’s path for development will be long and arduous. It will take years if the right people come back. But if they don’t, part of me thinks we will never get there.

76 thoughts on “A tough sell

  1. 1) Control inflation (restrict money supply, raise interest rates, kill the cancer)
    2) Dissolve the bureaucratic state (get rid of ministry of education, culture, sports, ministry for the women, ministry for the indigenous peoples, etc.)
    3) Create conditions for private investment (repeal the labour act and ALL regulations, lower income taxes for corporations, make everybody pay income taxes, raise VAT, if necessary)
    4) Stop all the wellferism to Cuba and centroamerican governments like Nicaragua.
    5) Remove price controls and currency exchange controls.

    After you do this, and maybe after 2 governments (so that everybody knows that you mean business and it’s not simply another failed cycle), maybe then, private investment and people could come back. Otherwise, I prefer to stay in Canada until we start the road to serfdom up here.

    • I forgot! Eliminating the armed forces that have been pillaging and shooting protesters for so long would be la guinda del pastel.

      • hahahah, oh please, i thougth the article was Naive but eliminate the armed forces, that just the real deal of naivity. Don’t get me wrong, i think armed forces doesn’t work the way they are (bigger number, low tactical capabilities, highly dependable on foreign weapon systems and a long etc). However, i also believe that the belief of a country without armed forces is not but a big lie, funny thing Costa Rica is a good example of it: (Being bullied by their neighbours, pretending to call the TIAR and uncapable of dealing with organized crime groups with miltar training like the Zetas; all that with police and intelligence agencies that lack of accountability.

        Sorry but that is not something i would like for venezuela. I prefer a change in the militar concept, we are not a big country so that so called popular army will not work, however, given the extension of our territory, armed forces will always be important…

    • we need these people in the first 100 days. After two governments the cause will be lost. Also, two governments is 12 years plus the time those guys have already there. By that time they will have children and a whole life. The clock is ticking.

    • Vsalomon, as far as raising VAT, perhaps for electronics, appliances, cars, etc. but not for food items. If I buy bread at the bakery, there’s no VAT, but sandwich bread has a VAT. Other processed food items also carry a VAT of 12.5%; which I think is high and should not apply to food items. Maybe because I lived in NH where we didn’t have sales tax, but even in MA, VAT is no more than 7%, if I remember correctly.

  2. Rodrigo, your generalization about Venezuelans in Panama vs. those in Colombia is silly. Venezuelans have a reputation around the world as both hard-working white collar professionals and as grifters. There is no geographic boundary to it. You get Venezuelan-run companies like Pacific Rubiales that is registered in Canada, with activities in Colombia, and a Panamanian subsidiary. Where does it fall on your taxonomy? In Chile, Venezuelans are known for their facility in cloning ATM cards. In Colombia, a Venezuelan ran the oil stock scam, Alange Energy. Blocking those who went to Panama is not going to protect you.

      • That generalization does not add anything to your point, so I would erase it.

        Just an example, P&G brought around 700 Venezuelan families to Panama, would you call P&G employees “lazy scammers”?

        You see my point?

        • Jau, I don’t think you should feel offended by it. It is not meant to offend. Amongst my closest friends are those working for P&G. They aren’t lazy at all. My parents live in Boquete.

          But Panama has fostered an environment where crooks and leeches thrive. Colombia hasn’t. That can be seen on the levels of impunity.

          Where do many bolibourgeois keep their savings?

          Where did many of the “traders” have gone?

          Panama is not their only haven, but it is one of them.

          I honestly wish P&G would bring those 700 families back after we build an environment that precisely fosters that. But I don’t think that environment will be attained doing what Panama has done.

          • “Traders” lol… in the euphemistic revolution, we Venezuelans use new names to name good old’ “professions”

            Nice piece btw, I wish someone with power (present or future) listen to you and act accordingly

          • Interesting what you said about Panama.
            I was comparing the GDP growth of different countries in Latin America and found Pearson’s r indicated Panama’s GDP was showing the closest correlation to Venezuela’s GDP in the last 20 years or so, more so than Colombia. I wonder now…

          • So blame Panama of having an open-doors bank system (that always have to deal with people of all kind in a pragmatic way). The question is what we would do to improve our own system and ¿we would not have to deal with the same situations? so a pragmatic thinking about it is important

    • “Venezuelans have a reputation around the world as both hard-working white collar professionals and as grifters”

      1% Hard workers
      99% Scammers and posers.

      People overseas generally laugh at us

      • I have to disagree partially, in my experience I am the first Venezuelan many Brazilians have ever met so there is absolutely zero stigma, neither a lazy scammer nor as a highly educated, hard working professional (then again, like US citizens Brazilians tend to be too focused on their own bellybutton to know much about the world that surrounds them).

        However, it is common for people to laugh at the sole mention of Venezuela: “that chabe guy is crazy, ain’t he? I heard you guys don’t have toilet paper, is that true??”

        *sigh*

        • We Brazilians tend to have more contact with hispanics from the Southern Cone (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay), the wave of Venezuelan immigration is a very recent thing, and the people indeed still don’t know much about the country. But I have never seen a bad attitude toward Venezuelans here, just toward the crazy Government, as you’ve pointed out.

      • While I grant you the Venezuelan reputation in Panama, and more recently, Cyprus, I don’t think this is exactly fair. Most Venezuelans I’ve encountered are hard working, but face a lot of shuffling and some not-so-insignificant struggles to move forward in the U.S., and as a result there are a few bad apples in the bunch that give the rest an unfortunate reputation (excluding some extremely obnoxious boligarchs we’ve run across – those folk are so oily you could use them to dilute down the Orinoco bitumen and not import Algerian crude).

        From my experience, Venezuelans (and in general, most people from LatAm) that emigrate to the US/OECD run into a few problems, and this immigration effect is more pronounced amongst the more recent émigrés. Rather subtly, it looks like this is supported by the Pew link (insurance, homeownership). Of course, this is based on my personal observations and aren’t conclusive, but they twine nicely. That’s why despite the high educational attainment as a population, their are some inconsistencies in the data versus the population as a whole.

        It is a pity that the data runs to 2011; I would imagine a more pronounced data set if it could include the last couple of years which covered more of the post-recessionary environment.

        It would be fascinating to read the study published by Dr. Paez and company. This more or less buttresses the Pew numbers. A bit of digging and you can find his gmail account, if anyone is particularly interested.

        Something else that stands out: the disparity in population numbers in general for Venezolanas in the US versus the rest of LatAm and the population in general. Net, nearly 15,000, or a 6% swing. I wonder why?

  3. There are people who even if settled abroad (with good jobs and living conditions ) hanker to go back to Venezuela if conditions here where only more promising than they are now and they are given a chance at making a good life for themselves, because all things being equal they feel more comfortable and sattisfied living close to their family and friends and in the enviroment in which they were raised .

    First its the absence of any prospects for a future that makes them leave Venezuela followed by the insecurity which threatens their lives unpredictably . If these two factors are dealt with then there will be many of them that return to their homeland.

  4. “That, and that your mom will be able to see her grandchildren every Sunday…”

    The above would be the only valid reason for me to be honest…. I never thought my daughter would only see her grandparents via skype. It’s pathetic what the red disease has done to our country.

  5. ” The question we need to ask ourselves is how we can make them come back.”

    Why?, What for?. To enjoy caña, playa and culitos?.

    This mass emigration is the best case scenario. Being unable to rebuild itself, Venezuela will rot to the ground like Cuba did. Then, and only then, productive people can go back there and do some rebuilding.

    Venezuela needs to hit rock bottom, needs to suffer utter devastation in order to be able to EVOLVE as a society.

  6. Funny, I kinda don’t care of the economic conditions. I mean, of course I care but, we are very resilient people and we had endured a bunch of economic disasters, although today’s picture looks like the worst of all, people still manage to solve. However, my deepest fear will always be safety. Suppose that economic conditions improve to a level where is safe to invest. Then you get some money and you become easy target to a bunch of thugs that do not hold any value for your life or your hard work. Then you end up rich but dead. Or you don’t even get rich, just a normal middle class person that gets mugged in the middle of the day walking from the metro station to your place.

    Furthermore, Venezuela has become a “values” mess, from things like previou post on a “Chavez Our Father” to the quasi-praise of the corrupts. It is very difficult, at least to me who live in Sweden where people have a completely different mindset, to think of going back to fight a cultural war to try to revive a country. It is a lifetime work. I love to go to Venezuela, and normally after three or four days I always feel disappointed and sad and want to come back to Europe. Sometimes it is not even the situation itself but how people act, think and react upon it, or how people still think in the same way that brought us into this mess on the first place. I don’t want to sound pretentious, and I know I am failing miserably on that :( but Venezuela has become so incompatible to my values that I don’t think I will have enough time in my life to return to a country where I can live in…

    I still dream with a B&B in the Paria peninsula for living my retirement… sighs

    • I already have a B&B near a fabulous beach & also have no escape.

      The older I get the less patient I get which in this country is not a good thing.
      I see no hope for the near future.
      We missed our chance to make the change with a leader with no balls.

      • About five years ago, we actively debated moving back to Venezuela with running a small posada near the paramo in Merida and teaching at ULA, or, alternately, going to Margarita and setting up something similar there. (Neighborino!) After much discussion, we decided to wait another four or five years to see how things played out in Venezuela.

        That debate died about two years back. We envision no scenario for the foreseeable future that would entice us to go back.

      • Island Canuck, Margarita was a great tourist attraction, and it could become so again very quickly. In fact, the real estate is currently dirt cheap and would sell quickly if property rights were secure and if there was security for tourists and new residents. The economy would flourish quickly!

        Until a few weeks ago, I was serving on a board of advisors at the University of California. We were organizing academic enterprises that funded the university. The university has experts of all kinds who can serve the community and various business and government needs. It gives the professors additional income and an incentive to create royalties for universities as well. It also provides a channel for students to innovate and become entrepreneurial. In Venezuela there is so much opportunity. It is so depressing!

  7. I think the first and foremost reason people leave is the insecurity, if it would be tackled i’m sure the emigration curve would be less acute.

  8. Excellent piece Rodrigo. To answer your question (regarding what can the govt offer) from the point of view of yet another would-be migrant (I’m still living and working in Vzla, but seriously considering to abandon ship soon):
    PERSONAL SECURITY. You cannot underestimate that. This issue is so important for the rationale of leaving the country (at least on my case) because it shapes and conditions one’s living: you can’t avoid the deaths and horror stories of people around you; there’s a self-imposed curfew every day; the paranoia of living in a constant russian roulette game; the fact that there’s no way I could possibly be having a family in this environment; the destruction of city life caused by crime…

    I don’t know, it’s like, the economic issues are obviously very bad and very pressing, but crime is always going to be the main reason I’m gonna leave this country, and it’s always going to be the main point I’m so angry at this government: it’s so blatantly obvious that they don’t care about the security of the Venezuelan people; that they will never do anything to reestablish the rule of law; that they will never put in place the radical measures other South American countries have done to control crime…

    It almost seems like we are ruled by malandros. Oh wait!…

  9. I keep reading more and more about this issue. The people who are going away.
    I have 10+ years away from Venezuela and my experience on the issue, that I have observed not only among Venezuelan but with any other culture or nationality with a few exceptions of course.

    The families (who are a majority among migrants) who move abroad with children will find a better life in 98% of the cases. Not all the time is a success, but success will arrive sooner or later.
    The children of this migrant families will make their life in their new home country, they will adopt new habits and culture, they will probably miss some things from their country of origin.
    But in due time they will have no ties to Venezuela just the fact that they where born there and their parents where born there too. In order to be part of the new society, their ties to Venezuela will be second in importance. These migrant children will never think of returning back to Venezuela.

    In the case of couples who have children in their new home country, those children wil have zero (0) emotional ties with Venezuela.

    As for the parents or couples who migrate, there always be a struggle. The majority will find success in their new home country. There will be the constant travel back and forth to Venezuela. And even some will consider returning but we are talking about a generation who is getting older and older.

    My point, those who have migrated are gone.

    • In the case of my relatives and friends, the Insecurity and lack of job opportunities are the main reasons to leave. Also have in mind that most (or all?) of those so-called “firmantes” are not allowed to get a job or simply entering as visitor in some State owned corporations.

  10. No one from this government, nor the one that replaces it, will have the cojones to do the necessary things to, at least, half-assedly try to medio acomodar the conditions, be them social or economics, to even try to attract the necessary people to at least try to fix— well, you get the idea. Anyways, one very simple example: public employees: at least 10% of the country’s population belongs to the public payroll; that’s plain and simple bloodsucking, puro chupóptero. Decimate that (like it should and must be), and there will be peo del bueno.

    You can liquidate PDVSA, yeah, but who would really and truly invest on it? You could change/eliminate/annihilate all the absurd and damaging laws and bureaucracy, but will all the pertinent/involved people react favorably and accordingly? I don’t think so. After all, culture destroy bridges (anyone remember the Caracas-La Guaira viaduct?). From my POV, we’re stuck in a cul-de-sac, or worse, a deadlock. Not even a “light, chilled and relaxed” therapy shock could be applied here, ’cause there isn’t even industrial (nor human) infrastructure that could resist the abrupt change of policies, that are actually needed.

    • “No one from this government, nor the one that replaces it, will have the cojones to do the necessary things to, at least, half-assedly try to medio acomodar the conditions, be them social or economics, to even try to attract the necessary people to at least try to fix— well, you get the idea”

      CAP tried to do something about the shitty economic situation in his second government, but the castros launched their coup that year.

      And then the rest of politicians have been terrified of trying to actually fix the economy after that.

      • I agree, however CAP political ways didn’t understand the concept of momentun like: When we have money (CAP I) we should go in a free-market policy not when we are on serious debt (CAP II)

  11. I don’t mean to be hypercritical, but a whole article about conditions for bringing back expats without a single mention of personal safety misses THE big issue.

  12. Don’t worry. I have a friend who has an important position in a large Venezuelan govt owned company. I cannot mention the name but it starts with E. S/he was sent to China on a business trip. On their departure and again on their return they noticed the huge lines of Chinese families flying from and to Venezuela, all of them with Venezuelan passports. They struck a conversation with a number of them.

    They learned that the Chinese gvt. has been sending entire families, entire villages even, of Chinese citizens to Venezuela. The Chinese gvt. pays for the visas (about 5K per family) and subsidizes the establishment of a family business, especially stores that import finished products from China. China usually buys Venezuelan businesses for these families. Right now, the chicken and egg business in Venezuela is owned by the new Chinese immigrants.

    I was convinced that the Chavista plan was to replace the Venezuelan professional class by an army of well trained Cuban slaves. But what about the rest of the middle class? Given this info the answer is clear: the Venezuelan middle class dedicated to commerce will be ethnically Chinese in a few years, like in Indonesia and Malaysia. This is the new imperialistic way of establishing an import economy that redirects Venezuela away from North America and towards Asia.

    Most revolutions in Latin America are ethnic cleansing affairs disguised as social justice. Don’t even think that ethnic cleansing is reversible when it happens. It is not.

    • That is social engineering…. Scary stuff, only retrogrades-minded chavistas would be capable to implement. I’m not surprised at all

    • There’s a great book out recently by Howard French titled “China’s Second Continent: How a Million Migrants Are Building a New Empire in Africa” which basically lays out the template for how China is colonizing the resource rich but economically disastrous or underdeveloped countries of the world. Call it 21st-century imperialism meets neo-colonialism, but it is what it is. The drivers for the individual Chinese may be socioeconomic, but its a win-win for China itself.

      A great write up on it by The Economist can be found here . Different continent, same gameplan.

      • And while on the subtopic of goodies from the The Economist:

        The daily chart is: The Global Liveability Index

        Gooooo Caracas with that awesome neg-delta! Ahead of Tripoli, Damascus, Tehran and much of sub-Saharan Africa, but, unfortunately, you fell behind Kiev.

    • That’s why societies need an open-minded policy respect on migration, i would like that venezuelans not been just three or four racial groups but an ideal and the more multicultural we become the better we will be

  13. I really appreciate everyone’s feedback. A comment on the crime was made, but do to the editorial work, it was removed as seen too obvious. I agree here with the majority, that safety is a big concern.

    The thing is, that crime will take some years to solve. We will need people to come back in spite of crime, in spite of inflation.

    Do you see my point? How do we bring back a group of people capable of solving those issues? Among others. It is fairly obvious that you can reverse the immigration curve ONCE the quality of life improves. What I want to know is how we bring the people which will cause the quality of life to improve.

    We will need capable people. Lots of them. Desperately. Otherwise we won’t be able to tackle these problems.

    • Key word: expectations. Take Brazil for example. Have you seen how the next presidential election’s been upended by Marina Silva? Whatever you think of her, there’s no denying she’s changing what Brazil might look like in the next five years.

      Once expectations are changed for the better there’ll be some Venezuelans willing to take their chances and get back home. More will be coming as their work effect the country. Others will be visiting once in a while and perhaps they decide to retire here in the future. Their children might end up liking the country and choose to move or invest here when they’re grown up. You see, when you remove the chavismo factor from the equation, ideas start to flow freely.

    • I wouldn’t bet on Marina radically rocking the boat on foreign policy…

      First of all, she is a former PT member (and one of the most leftist ones at that), so I don’t expect for her to break away from this party’s line of thinking and suddenly adopt and anti-Cuba & Venezuela stance.

      Also, as vital as it is for her to reinvigorate the economy, I don’t see how she would benefit from calling out an irrational government from a country with major Brazilian investment.

      With Marina it will be similar as to what happened with Santos, whom as Uribe’s right hand man was expected to become a major antagonist to chavismo, yet although some sparks did fly when he first assumed office, eventually the Colombian president did what any smart LatAm politician would have done and adhered to the Clay Davis School of Political ethics > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ktvE2vfxSQ (skip to 1:25)

      • I don’t think that we should ignore her pentecostal credentials. There are many pentecostal hardline anti-communist leaders like Silas Malafaia who are with her now. Thus, I don’t believe that she will close her eyes to human rights abuses in Venezuela as Dilma does. If anything, she can use Brazil’s huge investment in Venezuela to bargain something or put pressure on the Chavistas.

        I’m certain about one thing, though: the relations between Venezuela and Brazil won’t improve with Marina because she has already said that Mercosur is not that good to Brazil, and that Brazil should see other trade partners outside South America (it’s in her government’s program, page 29 – link below).

        http://cl.ly/0P010I1M1M2C/download/programa.pdf

        • thanks for the link! I will probably vote for her, but I admit I don’t expect a radical change in all the things that actually require one urgently – such as Brazil’s role within the region.

        • But is important to remeber that the Brazilian president in not all-powerfull in Foreign affairs and for tradition, it not act like that neither. That’s the difference between Casa Amarilla and itamaraty

          • I don’t know, Rory. I want to believe that they will peacefully leave power, but many people are saying that they will “set the country on fire”. Let’s see… No one knows for sure what this kind of people are capable of doing.

            OFF-TOPIC>

            Just to let you all know. There will be a BYOTT (bring your own toilet tissue) event in front of the Venezuelan consulate in Sao Paulo to protest against the lack of basic goods on the 12th of September. We already have 550 people confirmed. That’s the FB page of the event:

            https://www.facebook.com/events/417662228440362/

  14. The Venezuelans who leave and have established themselves elsewhere will never come back. They will not face getting their hearts broken a second time. And, you are right that these people are the yeast that makes Venezuela an active and vibrant culture. However, once the economic and political collapse is complete and order has been reestablished, the new government will have no choice but to actively seek foreign investment to rebuild the country. This the companies and individuals who invest will insist on bringing their own management and key personnel. The resources of Venezuela are still very attractive. When there is political and economic stability once again, and opportunity knocks, Venezuela will be flooded with a new wave of immigrants that will reinvigorate the culture.

    • Yes, you guys shouldn’t be that pessimistic. Look at Portugal. The Venezuelan diaspora is nothing compared to the Portuguese Diaspora (there are 6 million Portuguese people living abroad). Portugal was a failed country until the early 80’s, when it entered the EU and got (kind of) back on track. It will probably will take long, but Venezuela will outlive Chavismo.

      • Venezuela will never outlive Chavismo.

        And the sooner the traitorous cockroaches emigrate, the better.

        Patria, Socialismo o Muerte!

        • Finally, truth from one of the resident chavista trolls!

          “Venezuela will never outlive Chavismo.”

          Why? Because chavismo will utterly destroy Venezuela before surrendering power. They are mid-process now.

    • If and when Venezuela bucks plaga roja, there will be an immediate rebound in the situation. The current misgovernment is of epic proportions (hay que echarle bola para estar como estamos). Simple measures such as foreign exchange, restoring power rotation (short of a real democracy) will improve things a lot and quickly, these are low hanging fruits. Of course there is hell to pay for chavismo 15 years and the pain will be traumatic, but things will improve naturally.

      We can only hope that the reconstruction of the state and its institutions is led by deft government, but the later may be very hard and elusive.

      You can think of Venezuela currently as an undervalued investment. Plenty of risk of course, but opportunities around the corner, with a great upside if the preconditions are met.

      When things improve, people will return, particularly if you think you can do better in Venezuela than as an immigrant where they moved. After all you may have the contacts in Venezuela, along with new skills and ideas. Something like the European immigration of the 50 through the 70s.

      I don’t think Venezuela will become a failed state like Zimbabwe, but then again, I never thought Chavismo would last this long nor that Venezuela could stoop this low.

  15. I feel your despair, there are lots of peolpe who’d like to return, asap. But the post is a little arrogant. Who’s to say the oppo members who’ve stayed behind wouldn’t succeed if given a chance? If there is a change in government, maybe those abroad can support via foreign investment. In fact the expats are bound to provide a boon to those who’ve stayed behind in other ways – globalization means you are never far from home.

    • It is unfortunate that you felt such a tone. Like I said elsewhere, I am in Caracas. I know many oppo wonks and techs and the ranks are rapidly diminishing.

      The remaining may be able to fix the issues. But they will more likely to succeed with some reinforcements.

  16. We’ll need:

    * High quality education, for praising and exalting industrious, hard-working people, while at the same time reviling and execrating the “vivo” way of thinking (Destroying the stupid assumption that the working people are “pendejos”), cultivating respect for the rule of law and fair game in people.

    * An actually working justice system that ensures criminals will get what they deserve for breaking the law (Finishing the impunity that reigns supreme today).

    Those are my two cents.

  17. Hi Rodrigo
    I’m one of those who wish to come back one day and work on reconstruction.
    I will propose conditions considering a hypothetic case where I would be working in a key government position (in order to directly influence change)
    These are:
    Another government. Plain and simple, you can’t do anything until this people is out of the way. And we need one with balls, willing to take risks, to chase down corruption and crime to the root. This will mean a large scale internal war with lots of blood and the policy creation and enforcement should reflect it.
    Personal security(existing for current government top officers) if you are willing to change things a lot of people will want you six feet under the ground, especially those with interests in the status quo.
    A government with a serious education funding policy.(school infrastructure, media, etc)
    A government open to hire former Venezuelan emigrants and willing to hear them, one that values their experience and voice. You think you won’t find resistance from those who dont want to be told how to do things? wait till you come back.
    A law that protects investors but also one that promotes social responsibility.
    The day I see this happening I will seriously consider returning. Good economics, roadways, etc, would be a consequence of the previous conditions.

  18. A heart wrenching post. I left Ireland 50 years ago for the same reasons. I have lived in Venezuela for four years within the last five years. I know how much it hurts. God bless you all!!!!

    Gerry.

    • in the Republic of Ireland 50 years ago crime was extremely low. Things in the 6 counties was in its ‘Troubles’ peak but you had a far lesser chance of dying a violent death than in Venezuela now (especially if you weren’t a paramilitary or security force member).

      Also, there was no basic shortages of medicine, food, etc, and the government was not (near) as corrupt and insane.

      But yes, not a lot of economic opportunity. That’s the only similarity…

  19. To address how Venezuelans are seen abroad and from spending the last few years between Panama, Miami and Venezuela and being married to a Venezuelan I can tell you the following:

    Panama – Most of the Venezuelans live in the nice suburb of Costa del Este just a few minutes from downtown Panama City. I have seen a wide range of Chavistas with obvious ties to the government and their gov money (stolen) although they would never admit to it. There is also a lot of newly rich with low education but who made money with import/cadivi and other government mechanisms which only existed in the last 15 years. And a few educated, honest family types. The running joke in my friends real estate office was that Venezuelans always buy in cash and that the majority of them are getting their money from Cadivi scams and “misappropriated” government money. This has been proven by the DECREASING number of real estate sales to Venezuelans over the last year exactly at the same time that the Cadivi/Sitme party has been dying down. But as you correctly point out all money, no matter the source, is good money in Panama so everyone just looks the other way.

    Miami – They stick to the areas of Doral in Miami and Weston in Broward county. The perception here is that they are higher educated than the ones in Panama especially amongst the ones that emigrated 10+ years ago. Not much direct government money although I have seen a fair share of “cadivi millionares” & maletero “businessmen” who you know made money by importing empty containers. The ones in Doral & Weston are more family type and seem to be overall very nice people. Many of them are on the investor visa. I can tell you that by driving through a Doral neighborhood you can see 4, 5 or 6 cars outside a 4 bedroom house. This can only mean that (tio, primo, suegra, cunado) are all arriving and staying together until they can get themselves established. Not uncommon to have 2 families in one house. The Venezuelan migration pattern reflects the Cuban migration pattern 40 years ago where the first ones to arrive in Miami were highly educated, wealthy etc, then came the middle class and now the population who have only known communism. If oil money can not keep subsidizing the poor in Venezuela in a few years they too will migrate out or will try and overthrow the government.

    In both places Venezuelans stick to themselves and dont really make friends with other hispanics or americans. They are known for their arrogance but I can see that starting to fall to the wayside rather quickly as the country continues to decay.

    Colombia – There is a large migration pattern as far as I know most are middle class or upper class and have a above average education.

    Venezuela – My personal opinion from traveling there several times between 2011 and early 2013 was that the country and its people are an absolute disaster and barring a complete social & economic collapse nothing will save it. Chavismo has brainwashed and “ghettofied” the average citizen. Morals and ethics dont exist and I think its only a matter of time before “el pueblo” sacks and raids the factories where milk, rice, bread is produced just like they did at the Daka stores last year.Whoever has escaped is not looking back and millions more are begging to leave. Again I never knew anything about or visited Venezuela before 2011 but upon arrival it was way, way worse than what I would have imagined.

  20. Wow. Many comments out here. For starters, the generalization on Panama and Colombia (I think) is not intended to be accurate, it is intended to show distinct policies, and to show Rodrigo’s opinion (which I share) that Panama’s type of policy is not what Venezuela would need.

    Many people here have said that safety is the only real concern. I left not so long ago (November 2013) and though many things have certainly gone worse than I anticipated, I arrived to a point where not even a decently paid young professional could pay himself a decent living, and if you add personal insecurity and other many factors, I decided to move. I lived there and actively worked to make serious changes for several years, where I just like many others coexisted alongside crime and that fear that you all know. My point is that, and I can only speak for myself, what is necessary to return once you make this very difficult choice of leaving, and go through all the difficulties of winning through a society which is plainly and simply put, not your place, you need improvement in at least more than one of the conditions that made you leave.

    Yes, at least some demonstration that personal security will be made a top priority and that the difficult measures will be taken is a good base, but if the talent of those who decided to leave is not sincerely seeked, then many won’t have a good reason to return. Many are the measures that a new government would need to impose to set the country at least in the right direction, but one thing that would hope to bring not only venezuelans but also quality inmigration from other countries, is the serious possibility for successful entrepreneurship (that somebody mentioned above), and our country only lacks those that depend on governments will. Finally, most of the policies needed to resurface could foster social tension, and many would be wary to return until the full consequences of such decisions are seen.

    Last but certainly not least, thank you Rodrigo for even bringing up this subject, because although it doesn’t seem to be close to an end, the end will eventually come and hopefully people like you will lead the charge so our country can get back on track.

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