Venezuelan Natives in Reynosa Discuss Crisis Back Home
REYNOSA – “The Venezuelan people are starving and their country is collapsing," said President Trump at the United Nations regarding the current state of Venezuela.
CHANNEL 5 NEWS spoke to some Venezuelans now living and working in Reynosa. They said the dangers are no comparison to the homelessness and starvation in their home country.
A short trip to a restaurant in Reynosa, you can taste a different world.
Chef Jesus Eduardo Rojas is preparing an arepa, an icon of Venezuelan cuisine. He hopes people like it.
“A lot of times I see plates that are delicious. I ask the waiter, ‘Hey, what happened? Why are they leaving food behind?’ ‘No, it's good. They liked it, but they don't want to get too full, or they already got full.’ Over there (Venezula), there's a real need for food. There's a need.” Rojas said in Spanish.
Rojas said Venezuela is always on his mind. He relocated in Mexico two years ago.
Rojas works at a restaurant owned by Venezuelan native Mabel Ariza. She was an attorney before moving to Reynosa.
Childhood memories are all she recalls fondly of a now crumbling country.
Ariza recounts in Spanish, “Every time we would close off and that closed off opportunities. We were becoming isolated from the world.”
Talk to anyone from Venezuela. Nostalgia, anger, disillusionment taints their memories, even the good ones.
Childhood for Venezuelan transplant Fabiola Yepez was held steady by a simple tradition.
"That was a routine very familiar, going to get groceries for the house all together to get everything. It was a routine very, very, very familiar that we began to lose as the economic situation began worsening. We had to buy food on resale. Everyone had also started leaving. My relatives weren't there anymore,” Yepez recalls in Spanish.
Her family, her world, was whittled down by the time she graduated. "When I entered the university I realized the whole world was leaving. The whole world was in an 'every man for himself' state of mind.”
Rojas, Ariza, and Yepez see Mexico as a place of opportunities. They understand violence looms over this country too; they see it differently.
“In Venezuela, you could go out to the front of your house, and just for having a phone you could get killed. Here it's separated. The violent have a group. The violent with the violent and over there the whold world is violent because they want to find money however they can,” said Yepez.
All three yearn for home. Ariza said it wouldn't be the same.
"Venezuela is a country that full of beautiful things, its culture, its music, its happiness and its people. But, right now I feel that it's not what I grew up with, not something I'd like to go back to,” said Ariza.
For Yepez, there would have to be significant change, "Years would have to pass so everything could change.”
And for Rojas, he said, "Yes, I think we all like to dream, but unfortunately it's not possible.”
This kitchen and their community in Reynosa is their world now.
Ariza and her family live in Mission. Rojas and Yepez said they would entertain legally immigrating to the United States.
They wouldn't be alone. According to the United States Office of Immigration Statistics, from 2006 to 2015, 98,823 Venezuelans have obtained lawful permanent resident status. This year so far, about 2,447 have been naturalized.
Venezuela has a population of about 31.4 million. The International Monteray Fund estimate about one out of every four Venezuelans is unemployed.
Consumers are also struggling with 720 percent inflation. A Los Angeles Times article states that in some cases, people are paying what's equivalent to $150 U.S. dollars for a dozen eggs.
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