What Life Is Like for Venezuelan Refugees: The Crisis Isn’t Over When You Escape the Collapse

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I find the most difficult aspect of survival is to keep a positive mindset. Definitely, it is. The crisis is not over when you escape the collapse. While I expected when I got my family out, our struggles were over, they have just begun.  Once you have been a successful professional, with an entire life ahead of you, and a good amount of the road already left behind, and find as refugees in a foreign country…this is where you really know about how strong you can be.

Or how weak, in my case. Don’t misunderstand me, please. I have been much more fortunate than many of my people, and I give thanks to God for that.

Some reflections, some advice.

These days have not been easy. There are a lot of people already in the labor marketplace around here, working for less money than they should, and rents are increasing because of the people looking for a place…and somehow finding something to work close to home has been uphill. My reserves have been in a slow decrease, and I am starting to worry a little bit.

I have you, unknown friends, but a wonderful prepping community that has avoided that the water covers my nose, and I appreciate that much more than you would believe (Receive our blessings please!). I had some cash stashed away that worked for buying my ticket and left just in time. I hold a professional degree that many people would kill to have, and skills that made me earn some degree of respect everywhere I arrived to work at some facility. I wanted to use this opportunity to spend some more time with my young kid, as a regular engineering work consumes a lot of time, and I was without my son ¾ of a year…but you know how it is.

School, meds for the kiddo, new shoes, clothes because the weather is cold here, and expenses all over the place. So, I have been looking for over a month now something in my former professional area, and opportunities seem to be not too much for someone my age. I am in the middle of the road: they look for freshmen or seasoned, grayback wolves with experience in management.

Why do I mention all of this?

Because it is slowly having a negative effect on my mood and my judgment.  It is highly stressful. Even for someone used to working under pressure, in more or less hard conditions (try to work inside a crude tank with an organic vapors protective mask for 9 hours), and having to face hostile corporative environments (remember, the state-owned oil corporation is not exactly a bed of roses nowadays for those who are honest and righteous) it has been really…challenging, so to speak.

We have to be prepared for this: we will just have what we can carry with us, and we have to be ready to start from there.

I will make a parenthesis here.

Once upon a time, before the kids, I told my wife I wanted to live in an RV, buy just a couple of empty lots, one in our town and another close to the sea. Just a good brick fence, 2.1 meters tall, water, power and sewer connections, and that was it. That meant much less money in many stuff. Not expensive twice-a-year air conditioning service (4 sets, it is a lot of money in Venezuela), no expensive condominium payments, wonderful (and cheap) vacations, whatever in the Andes snowy mountains in Merida (yes we have snowy permanent peaks there) just to arrive the next night to the beach in Adicora, world-wide known for watersports. Of course one of my intentions was as well to have the capability to get out of Dodge in a hurry if things got hairy. Go figure.

But no, I fell in the deadly rat race and had to buy an already built house. I became a part of the machine, against my will by the way.

I would not complain that much, except for the fact that we are close to losing our children’s home because of the Cubanization of Venezuela. 25 years of effort, study, and hard work. Just like that. Mainly because of the revenge of the psychos Delcy Rodriguez and Jorge Rodriguez, the siblings who procreated one of the CEO Niehaus’s kidnappers.

If my first intuitive hunch would have been listened to, we could have been in a far better position.

Wives, listen to your husbands. Please. No matter how odd or eccentric your old man’s idea can be, he certainly has good motives to dare to propose it to you. Serious consideration, at least for a few minutes. Use your fantasy and your prepping mindset. With that “eccentric” lifestyle (no one in Venezuela lives like that! We would have been called that crazy family that lives in a motorhome) we could have been arrived at a safe place, perhaps facing some inconveniences along the way but we could have been together.

My younger kid refuses to sleep now in his bed and insists on sleeping with me, as he has nightmares where I go far away…again, this time not coming back. I have woken up in the middle of the night just to find him staring at me, a couple of times. I just hug him and keep him close to my chest until we both fall asleep again.

Now we are renting a place, God knows for how long, and spent a lot of money that hardly will be back in our pockets.

This is somehow difficult to write about, as I see slowly how difficult is going to be to return to normality…if such thing happens before I “fly away”…

I expected relief, but my mindset is still troubled.

Now let’s go back to business.

I have found the hard way that prepping is a lot like a financial investment. You have to be aware of the possible scenarios that life can present. You need an entrance plan and an exit plan.

You must not put your eggs in the same basket. Jeez, you should not even put them in a basket, use an ABS case instead. Polish the skills you already have, and use some time to learn new ones that you enjoy. I like to work with CNC equipment, and I already have applied for some jobs in workshops that use it, as it was my hobby that I was going to turn into a home business. Hopefully, my plan will work here, much better than there.

Nobody is a prophet in their own land, are they? I have been already practicing my broadcasting training while hunting for work, and I have come to improve a lot, just in a couple of months.

Once you see your family already settled up, that is where the hard part begins, which is surprising. I expected more relief. But there are the calculations of what you have lost. As sad as it sounds, your mind will go to that shadowy, cold place when you are refugees.

Perhaps I am used to those sunny days in my former tropical paradise of a country, and the winter is working against my mood, but I found it hard to stop to think about that. I had my last child because with a good job, a new car and a home, things were expected to be much easier for him. See my point here?

Now the uncertainty is such, that I don’t know even if I will live long enough to help him to get a decent home some day. Perhaps your self-control is much better than mine, or your faith. But I am describing exactly what happens in my mind, so if you have bad luck enough to experience something similar (and I pray that you never experience this), then you will deal with it much easier, my dear prepping friends.

I truly hope this is only a temporary state, and to be able to get my guts together again and fight the world with claws and teeth. It is my first experience of a winter. Weeks and weeks of cold gray days, one just like the day before. Not as fancy as I was thinking, indeed.

And I still watch what is happening in Venezuela

I just saw in the social networks that horses are being used as taxis, in a town called Ocumare. This is no joke, it is happening. In a country rich with oil.

And it is not odd at all: the military has seized the formerly private Duncan batteries factory. There is much less tire production. With a useless green uniform controlling everything as PDVSA chairman, there is no engine oil being produced for the public consumption: its production is limited to the trafficking…by the military, go figure.

There are a lot of problems to get the production out to the Texas refineries, which once received two shipments a day from us, and it is made for working with high sulfur content crude. The OPEC is going to expel Venezuela because they have not been even able to cover their production quota. No surprises why: even the well operators are fleeing out because they can’t even work with their stomachs empty and while watching their families starve, waiting for a box of rations.

Do you believe the Cuba experience was bad?

Then you have not read enough about what is happening in my once wonderful country.

Cheers, people. God bless you all. See you next week.

J.G. Martinez D

J.G. Martinez D

About Jose Jose is an upper middle class professional. He is a former worker of the oil state company with a Bachelor’s degree from one of the best national Universities. He has a small 4 members family, plus two cats and a dog. An old but in good shape SUV, a good 150 square meters house in a nice neighborhood, in a small but (formerly) prosperous city with two middle size malls. Jose is a prepper and shares his eyewitness accounts and survival stories from the collapse of his beloved Venezuela. Thanks to your help Jose has gotten his family out of Venezuela. They are currently setting up a new life in another country. Follow Jose on YouTube and gain access to his exclusive content on Patreon. Donations: paypal.me/JoseM151

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  • I used to work in refugee resettlement centers, in the USA and in Canada, with people from many different countries and of many very different cultures. Psychologically, it seems that the most difficult period is after the acute emergency is over: the people are safe, they’re out of the repressive government’s control. They have a new life to make. Nevertheless, that’s when so many people seem to ‘fall apart. I think most refugees have a real struggle with this. Talk to a friend. Write about your experiences, as you do. Counseling has helped some people. Courage,this too shall pass.

    • Dear Pat,
      Thanks. As a matter of fact I have been chatting with some friends under similar circumstances, but they are happy to have left…they seem not to have a complete idea of what they are losing. Perhaps some of us are much more rooted with our homeland?..or maybe I am just getting too old for some things…

  • I don’t know what country you are in, but I would revisit the idea of an RV. Generally, camp grounds are much cheaper for monthly rent, and they usually include free water and sewer dumps. No matter what possessions that you were able to take with you, they aren’t worth your peace of mind. If need be, store them in a professional storage, sell them for the money, or repurpose them to fit the RV. A truck can haul the RV, your family, and stuff. It will also get you back & forth to work. Cars can be limiting.
    Think about working for yourself. A good way to decrease your tax burden-ie more money in your pocket-and a good hustler can get work. Even if you do this part time. Is your wife good at crafting? If so, commit to candles, knit items, whatever and as a family-set up a booth and sell once a month. I know many seniors and moms who do exactly this.
    Try to remember, with God all things are possible. He got you and your family this far, he won’t abandon you now. Good luck!

  • J.G., as someone in IT who lost my job and (subsequently) just about all my personal property in 2013, I have had to reinvent myself and start my own company, which is finally bearing fruit after much “preparation”.

    “prepping” can be for something as simple as losing your livelihood, or for something as complex as the slow collapse of society.

    I am older with over 40 years of software development experience but the tech folks will not give me the time of day:

    fine, when i was last working for “them” (in 2012, in IT project management) I hated my job even though it paid very well.

    now I am working for my own company and have segued into a comfortable life without the degradation of united states corporate prison life.

    sometimes the experience and marketable skill you have is different than what you did in the past. I have found your writing compelling and thought-provoking in a way I could never have imagined.

    think outside the box, you are obviously highly intelligent and resourceful. I’ll send you another $100 when I get paid next week.

    • Dear friend,your words are really encouraging, I don´t have words enough to thank you. These days have been rough, as my income has reduced to the half of what used to be, and we are barely in the edge. My wife started working in a factory, nothing fancy but she works so hard that people appreciates her. Bad news is that we are overcrowded, this department was just for 4 persons and there are 7 of us, so 3 of us will have to look for a separated bedroom. This was to be expected, though. My younger kid is very sad about me leaving the department, but I told him I would try to rent something nearby. The problem is that I won´t have access to Internet because to sign a contract in this country we need papers and I am still working on them (there is a lot of Venezuelans in the line). And demand has increased the price of rentals too.

      I have thought indeed about some side business, but all of my equipment except my laptop and my brain was left behind. I have been asking for some quotations to bring it here, but is pricey, and anyways I don´t have a place where I could use my CNC, measuring almost 1,3 meters long, 1 meter wide and 1 meter high with some clearance.

      As of today I am getting a haircut (finally) and leaving home for going to a CNC workshop nearby and see if they have something to offer me. I don´t work with the software they have (Mastercam and Inventor) but I do know some others like Vectric´s equivalent for cutting wood. And I learn exponentially fast when it is about software (these days as things have been slow I have been reading a lot about artificial intelligence, just for fun)…LOL.

      40 years of coding?…I used C86 basic in college but had a great programming professor, and I first learned when I was 10 or 12 with that basic that came in my Timex Sinclair 1500 (Still have it at folk´s place) for some learning…I had later an Epson QX10.

      Good memories from those times!.

  • I looked this article over a couple of times and couldn’t see where it said what country he fled to. I am hoping that someone will write a documentative book on the collapse of Venezuela, such as Fernando Aguirre did about the collapse of Argentina. This author apparently has some higher education if his claim to being an engineer is true. Maybe he could find someone with a better grasp of English to help him translate his experiences into a book which he can sell to help him and his family survive.

  • Collapse? What collapse? Maduro just got re-elected in Venezuela because the people support his policies and understand what the US is all about. The US is currently buying Venezuelan oil. Reality is different than the propaganda engineered on television, the internet, and this website.

  • This bring up, once again, the idea of obtaining a second citizenship and passport. There are people on the net that can help. Just beware that some of them are scams. Do your due diligence when searching.
    It really doesn’t matter what your home country is anymore. Most are headed downhill, including the U. S.
    Just my two pennies,

  • Jose, I am not sure of where you are now but coming from a tropical country to the northern latitudes is a big shock. I live in Michigan, a beautiful state but much of the winter is spent in gray, cold days where I long for the sun just to shine on my freezing cold face :). Many of my friends have said they find a lot of joy in the winter as they participate in all manner of outdoor activities- me not so much haha. Anyway, when your children get involved in activities and you and your wife find friends, life becomes more bearable. Please don’t worry about your little guy; none of us can promise our children a full life with them. Perhaps he is feeling your anxiety and senses your concerns. You have so graciously shared your hopes and dreams and fears with us and your excellent advice for prepping. Although my finances are not in a position to share with you at this time, I do send many prayers for your comfort and happiness.

  • FloydLloyd: I would like to share the country where I am, but unfortunately, with some of the opinions I have written about, it would not be safe for me because most of my family is still in Venezuela.
    Obviously, you don´t have a clue about how similar is the actual situation with the Cuban dictatorship. It is even worst, just for the record.

    Daisy knows exactly where I am, though.

    It is looking more like the Pol Pot operation. Jeez, buddy, these thugs have even jailed to former Uncle Hugo´s fellas!!
    Joshua Holt´s name does not ring a bell? Just write him and ask him how things are getting down there, if you don´t believe me. I strongly believe he was framed just for a ransom. No one with an uniform is reliable there.

    It is not your fault, and I understand that. Mainstream US media does not give a dang about some small country 1/10 the size and population of the US, which has a lot of problems of their own already. Trump has done more than that stupid opposition lobby, the MUD or “Mesa Unida”. Screw em. I can’t disclose openly my location in a public website because there are CUBANS and Venezuelan agents around here, dude. I am not playing the 007 cards, this is true and they are following closely what we expats are doing.
    I don’t have a clue why you say about “my claim to be an engineer” as this is completely unrelated to what I have been writing about, and it seems more like an attempt to stir things up; however I could write much better in Spanish, if that is more understandable for you 😀

    Eric Rodgers, if you really believed that CIA stuff, never should have written that LOL. Anyway if they want to offer some help to free my country(and keep it free)…I would consider it very seriously, indeed.

    “Collapse? What collapse? Maduro just got re-elected in Venezuela because the people support his policies and understand what the US is all about. The US is currently buying Venezuelan oil. Reality is different than the propaganda engineered on television, the internet, and this website.” <—– Dude, you work for the KGB or what?

    There was massive lack of assistance to that fraud, Eric. I have PROOFS of the empty election centers all over the country. I can't give more details about my organization and what we have been doing or will do, but this is one of the reasons the entire world won't recognize that fraud. Yes, there is still buying of crude. But it is the size of this what really matters, because the Texas refineries work with high sulfide content crude: our crude, and stopping that supply would cost a lot. Buying and selling crude is not what some people believe. There is a CONTRACT involving fines from both parts if the quotas are not delivered or payments are delayed, see?. Once one of this sales contract ends, it is renewed, which is not happening.

    Jpse: Your prays are highly valued, and treasured. It is very pleasant to know that so many people understands about all this process, and provides support in the way they are able to do. I want to thank you, really, and I have no doubt that all of your good will and blessings have been taking care of us. We will start helping other as soon as we are in a better situation, too.

    Blessings for everyone, people. And I mean everyone!, truly.
    Cheers! 🙂

    • It is quite apparent that your experiences have instilled a deep sense of paranoia in you. Nothing in my comment was meant to diminish whether what you are saying is true or that your descriptions of who you are or what you’re dealing with is exaggerated. I read your account with great interest and much sympathy.

      When I stated: “This author apparently has some higher education if his claim to being an engineer is true.” I follewed up by saying: “Maybe he could find someone with a better grasp of English to help him translate his experiences into a book which he can sell to help him and his family survive.” By which I meant, since you are educated, you would be in a better position to examine the causes behind the collapse of your country and be able to articulate that cautionary tale to a rapt and responsive audience, by writing about them in book form that you could sell and aid in supporting your family.

      It’s apparent that English is not your first language, so my remark was meant to suggest that you write out your observations, in the language you are most comfortable and proficient in, and have someone translate it to English.

      I, personally, have been following all of the articles reporting I find on the hardships of the Venezuelan people. I understand the complacency that obviously developed under a Socialist regime, for the people to expect their every need to be fulfilled, as long as the oil spigots were spewing cash. It seems to me that no one thought to develop the rest of the economy to persist in the wake of a drop in oil prices. So, as I said, I would like to read a documentative account of how the whole mess came about and how it got to the point where Venezuelans are forced to flee their country in order to survive.

      • Oh dude, my mistake. I have now a reliable connection and can write much better. I will explain in some of the future articles the reasons of the collapse much better; I have some important information but it is scattered and spread, and I need reliable sources to tie some loose ends. But in the mean time I have to freelance, and take care of my family, so it is a medium term goal.

        I am sorry about being that paranoid. But…just because you don’t see anyone chasing you, that does not mean they are not going after you…


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