Professionals who once had a comfortable life in Venezuela struggle to survive in Miami, an expensive city where the last arrivals start from scratch cleaning cars and houses, preparing hamburgers or driving Uber taxis.
“What else can be lost if in our country we are also at zero but above we have the threat of violence?” Says Raymond Baloa, a construction entrepreneur who decided to move to Miami this year and now lives from managing a Uber
According to the UN, 5,000 people have left Venezuela every day because of the deep crisis that that country is going through in all orders.
South Florida and Miami in particular are one of the favorite destinations of Venezuelans not only now, but for two decades, and for the last arrivals, like Baloa, raising his head is not easy, although in his country it was still more difficult , they say.
Francisco Fernández Galán, founder of the portal Bienvenidosvenezolanos.com, underlines that 50% of Venezuelans who have come to the US They are professionals with a university degree.
“Ours is a cultured, prepared immigration, but I’ve seen doctors washing cars, teachers cleaning houses,” he says.
Baloa, whose wife, who is an architect, works in a fast food restaurant, says that when you see that in your country “there is no food or medicine, you have to make a decision to survive.”
“He knows that one is going to start from scratch, in a strange country,” but it’s preferable to stay there, says the businessman, who has a teenage daughter, who has adapted very well to school in Miami.
“We have never been ashamed of the job, any struggle is small if it is a matter of moving the family forward,” he says.
“Darling X”, a graduate in commerce who had her own home and two cars in her country, arrived six weeks ago with her husband, a graduate in education.
They have no children and they came without knowing anyone. They brought just the money to rent a car a few days and move while looking for work.
“If we had to sleep in the car, that was not a problem, you come here to see if you get a well-being, even if it’s momentary,” she told Efe this woman who does not want to be identified.
“Darling X” and her husband started working two days after arriving in Miami. First cleaning hotel rooms.
Even for two weeks she accepted work as a domestic employee, in-house, from Monday to Saturday.
“It started at 7:00 AM and ended at around 9:00 PM I had to do everything: from cleaning the whole house to shopping for food, cleaning windows, watering the garden, preparing and serving the three Meal times Ah, and the lady’s snack at 4:00 sharp, “she says.
More than 70 hours for $ 300 a week, when the minimum wage in Florida is $ 8.46 an hour and after 40 hours you have to pay extra time.
All this happens, says Fernandez, while the political or humanitarian asylum is approved: “There are about 170,000 Venezuelans living in Miami, most of them came with a tourist visa, by plane, but since they do not have permission to work, they remain in a limbo and they are forced to accept any job. “
Unfortunately some are also exposed to abuse.
“One of the biggest surprises I’ve had,” says Baloa, “is how people can take advantage of someone in crisis.”
“Our need is becoming a sub-economy: in the business of others,” says Baloa, who sadly recalls how a man who recommended him for a job in construction earned four dollars for every hour he worked.
Abuse is also present in homes. Until recently for $ 600 a studio apartment was rented in Miami. Now, in family apartment buildings with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms, in average neighborhoods, some Venezuelans are paying 750 for a small room, without a private bathroom.
“In our case,” says “Darling,” “the living room in the apartment we live in is divided by a curtain, because another person, for $ 500, rent that space, we share the bathroom with her.”
“Darling” adds that for a few days he also rented a vehicle.
“I returned it because they asked me to pay 570 a month and it was very old, in bad condition and it stunk of marijuana.
We prefer the bus, although it takes us 2 hours and 3 buses each trip. “
Now, with the possibility of a change in his country at the hands of Juan Guaidó, recognized as interim president of Venezuela by a part of the international community, they do not rule out the idea of returning, although they say that it will be necessary to “give time for everything starts to start. “(EFEUSA) .-