Q24N (EFE) Daniel Zambrano, of Caracas, Venezuela, dreams of a future for himself and his family in Spain, where he plans to arrive next year, with the aim of achieving the “mental stability” that he says he has lost in Venezuela, given the difficulties in meeting household expenses, despite having four sources of income.
Meanwhile, some of those who had migrated have returned, attracted by the slight economic improvement in their home country.
The Government of Venezuela assures that “thousands” of people abroad “dream of returning”, but this 27-year-old is focused on obtaining the papers to emigrate legally to Spain, where according to Spain’s National Institute of Statistics ( INE), 21,500 Venezuelan immigrants arrived during the first quarter of 2023.
Official data confirms that, from January to the end of March, Venezuela was the third country – only behind Colombia and Morocco – that contributed the most citizens to Spain.
In Venezuela, “things are excessively expensive. US$300 dollars here is nothing and, perhaps, in another country, it is enough for many other things. I am thinking about my mental stability, about lightening my burdens a little,” Zambrano told EFE.
The young man has a hamburger business, in which he leaves two people in charge while he works at “many other things,” such as with courier services, barbershops, and transport on his motorcycle through Caracas, all to be able to “bring home a livelihood”, where he lives with his partner and their 6-year-old daughter.
He is constantly on the move, moving from one point of the city to another, from “Monday to Sunday”, but what he longs for is “to have a single job” that provides him enough so that his family can live and “be mentally well” instead of feeling “stressed out every day, looking for what to do” to improve income.
“Many things to improve”
Some 7.32 million Venezuelans have left their country in recent years, according to the Plataforma de Coordinación Interagencial para Refugiados y Migrantes de Venezuela (R4V) – Interagency Coordination Platform for Refugees and Migrants from Venezuela.
The Venezuelan Government affirms that more than 300,000 returned to the country by their own means from 2020 until last January, and another 30,900, through the “Plan Vuelta a la Patria” (return to the homeland), launched in 2018 to facilitate the return of migrants who were victims of xenophobia in recipient nations.
Among the returnees is Klisbely Echezuria, 28, who arrived in Venezuela in July, after five years in Colombia, and although the country he found is far from the one he left in 2018 – when hyperinflation closed at 130,060%, according to official figures, and there was a general shortage of products, “there are still many things to improve”, especially services and high prices, which makes her think about emigrating again.
“I would like to live in my country. Who does not? But with a better economy and basic services. Everything here is very expensive,” Echezuria told EFE.
For a time she lived, along with various aunts, in Urabá, Colombia, in an apartment without a kitchen, bed, or fan. Later, she reunited with her husband – also a migrant – in Cali, Colombia, where he studied to become a “professional artificial nail technician.”
She worked in at least eight establishments during her stay in Colombia, mainly hairdressers and spas, before doing manicures independently.
Finally, she decided to return to Venezuela, but for family reasons, unrelated to any work or economic activity.
The family was also what pushed Freddy Carrero, a 30-year-old systems engineer, to return to Venezuela together with his wife and two of his stepdaughters, after four years in neighboring Colombia.
He arrived in January when he saw a “totally” different country from 2019, so he decided to “put down roots again” in his native land.
“In 2019, when I left, the supermarkets were still empty. Right now you get food everywhere,” he told EFE.
The death of his father, in 2021, moved him strongly, especially since he could not be present in his last moments, which caused him to begin to need to return to be close to the family.
Now, with his income as a manager in a family business and that of his wife, he can, in part, cover “the basics,” which requires about US$100 a month per person, according to independent estimates.
According to the Government of Venezuela, “thousands” have returned because “the economic situation is beginning to improve.”
Others, like Echezuria and Carrero, returned for the family.