By Damita Menezes and Brenda Ordonez
More than 7 million Venezuelans have fled the country since 2015. As of 2021, there are 179,203 Venezuelans living in Argentina as part of the refugee crisis, according to Chequeado – a news organization in Argentina.
More often than not, Venezuelan migrants arriving in Argentina cannot work in their desired profession due to their degrees and licenses not being accepted in the country. Professionals are forced to give up their careers and either find a “new dream profession” or go into the workforce doing something they are not passionate about.
This is the story of two men who left Venezuela and ended up in Buenos Aires with starkly different livelihood outcomes.
MORE THAN 7 MILLION VENEZUELANS HAVE FLED THE COUNTRY SINCE 2015.
AS OF 2021, THERE ARE NEARLY 200,000 VENEZUELANS LIVING IN ARGENTINA AS PART OF THE REFUGEE CRISIS.
THIS IS THE STORY OF TWO OF THEM.
Luis Molner: I am Luis Molner.
Richard Brice: I am Richard Brice.
Together: We are Venezuelans.
Brice: While I was practicing criminal law in Venezuela. I was robbed. They broke, they cracked the glass of my car to steal a stereo. That’s when I said, “Well, this is going to get worse every day” because it was in my house. So, it was directly where I live.
BUT LEAVING, CAME AT A COST.
Molner: While I was outside of the country, my father got COVID, and faced with a broken health care system, we had no way of taking him to a clinic. They could not tend to us. Unfortunately, my dad left us, and being unable to say goodbye was probably one of the hardest things.
Brice: I am a lawyer by profession. Here the procedure is a little more cumbersome. Everything that is the legal framework changes. I had to study again to validate my law degree here (in Argentina). When I left (Venezuela) I had the mentality that it would not be easy for me to find work in what I had prepared for in a university. But hey, all of us who emigrate have to have the mentality that we have to work whatever jobs come our way.
ROUGHLY HALF OF VENEZUELANS IN ARGENTINA ARE UNDEREMPLOYED DUE TO DIFFICULTIES IN ACCREDITING DEGREES.
NEARLY 70% OF VENEZUELAN MIGRANTS WORK IN THE INFORMAL ECONOMY.
Brice: Right now I work in food delivery. Obviously, I do not feel ashamed for working in any other job that is not my profession.
WHILE RICHARD SACRIFICED HIS CAREER FOR A SECURE LIVELIHOOD, LUIS EMBARKED ON A NEW DREAM.
Molner: When I migrated here to Argentina, I started working as an engineer. I was very lucky to have acquired jobs very quickly. Within the week I was working in an Argentine company. There they practically adopted me as a son. The Argentine businessmen gave me all the support and love so that I could develop as an engineer. Finally, this gastronomy project called Chacaito was born. We opened this in 2019 as a dream, as a project to bring our culture and make a cultural exchange between our food, flavors, aromas and music. Bring it all here to Argentina and to all of us Venezuelans who migrated and are far away from our country. This little corner allows us to meet and keep that Venezuelan tradition alive for those of us that are away from home.
WITH CHACAITO’S SUCCESS, LUIS HAS OPENED A NEW VENTURE.
Molner: Atmosfera was born with the theme of creating that ideal environment for the survival of the human being. The four elements are used. So it creates the perfect balance where everything flows.
Yes, I miss my family. I miss my cousins. I miss the day-to-day, the sharing, the reunions. Most of all, I miss Christmases and birthdays. but I feel that with each passing day, I am more settled down here in Buenos Aires, Argentina. I don’t think I will ever return to Venezuela.
Brice: I left Venezuela hoping that within two years, a maximum of three, I could return to my country and resume my career. It hasn’t gone the way I would have wanted it to go. In 10 years, I see myself in Venezuela practicing my profession. I aspire to one day arrive and continue studying because although I am 50 years old. I don’t feel old. I don’t feel tired.
LUIS BECAME AN ARGENTINE CITIZEN ON FEB. 9, 2023.
RICHARD REMAINS WAITING FOR VENEZUELA TO BE A SAFE PLACE FOR HIM AND HIS FAMILY.