“The Only Full Refrigerator in Venezuela Is in the Morgue”: Tomas Paez
Sociologist Tomas Paez argues that the disastrous socialist public policy of Chavez and Maduro has been the primary factor in the massive exodus from Venezuela.
“The main cause of Venezuelan emigration is socialism of the 21st century,” said sociologist Tomás Páez, coordinator of the Global Project of the Venezuelan Diaspora; responding to Nicolás Maduro’s comments admitting to a “brain drain” in the country.
The Venezuelan dictator said on Wednesday, March 14, there existed a massive “brain drain” in Venezuela, and also confessed that the diaspora is seeking to “improve their life abroad.”
“There are some young people who have left Venezuela with the idea of improving their life abroad. It’s okay, go and come back because they will not find a better country than Venezuela,” said Maduro.
But Maduro conceals that most migrants are doing so to escape the dictatorship and its disastrous consequences.
“The Cause of Venezuelan Emigration is Socialism”
According to studies of the Global Project of the Venezuelan Diaspora, since Hugo Chávez and his successor Maduro came to power, more than three million citizens have decided to leave Venezuela. The main causes, it says, are insecurity, impunity, and of course, the unprecedented economic crisis.
In an interview, the sociologist Tomás Páez explained the reasons for this massive exodus and explained why “migration is always good.”
What are the main reasons why Venezuelans have decided to leave their country?
There are two fundamental reasons that are summarized in the following sentence: the only full refrigerator in Venezuela is in the morgue. This phrase summarizes the two main problems facing Venezuelans: insecurity and economic deterioration. This is fueled by the great problem that is the socialist model that was installed in Venezuela and that has destroyed the country.
When we asked Venezuelans if they were willing to return, the majority answered yes, but not in these conditions.
The Venezuelans we interviewed responded that in order to return to their country it would be necessary to change the political model and that the country need prioritize the right to property and the most important thing of all: the right to life.
What do Venezuelans look for when they leave their country?
Venezuelan migration has more or less repeated the same pattern of all Latin American emigration. The desired destinations offer greater freedom and development: generally those in the north, such as the United States, Canada, and countries of the European Union.
However, in recent years, due to the economic failure of Venezuela, which has impoverished 87% of the population, it has become impossible to buy plane tickets to those northern countries, so now the migrants decide to go by land and reach countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Ecuador, Peru, Chile, Uruguay, Argentina, Panama and even by sea, to the Caribbean islands.
I give the example of a university professor who earns between 5 and 7 dollars a month; a university professor in Venezuela would have to work between 15 and 18 years without stopping to buy a plane ticket; that’s why now they emigrate by bus, on foot, or by boat.
What is the economic profile of Venezuelan migrants?
From Venezuela, more and more people of lower socioeconomic status are leaving, but, above all, it remains working professionals.
Most of the Venezuelan society has been impoverished, except those who have done business with the Chavez and Maduro regimes; all others have become impoverished.
“A university professor in Venezuela would have to work between 15 and 18 years without stopping to buy a plane ticket”
Impoverished people are leaving, but most of them have studied at the college level, but with their salaries in Venezuela, they can’t even buy a bicycle. The migrants are young entrepreneurs with a high level of academic training.
There are three million Venezuelans distributed in 90 countries in more than 300 cities in the world today.
What are the consequences of this massive exodus from Venezuela?
I must emphasize that for the government there is no diaspora. The regime does not disclose emigration statistics. All the information we obtain, therefore, we do with the help of other countries.
We go to Venezuelan organizations throughout the world, to researchers from different universities, because currently, the Maduro regime hides the records, so that they can deny what is happening.
” Those who have left have been able to develop their skills, learn, and make new contacts”
In Venezuela, there is no brain drain as the government says. If those people had stayed in the country, they would not have jobs or access to technology or research. There would be no possibility to study.
Although all socialism generates a diaspora, fortunately, those who have left have been able to develop their skills, learn, and make new contacts,
What is your impression in relation to the migratory policies followed by countries such as Peru, Colombia, Argentina, etc?
Every time I can, I thank all these countries for the aid they are giving to Venezuelans. They are nations that have understood the situation and have assumed that migration is always good.
How do you explain to the world the contention that migration “is always good”, especially at a time when xenophobia is increasing?
Emigration is not just about people; these people also represent knowledge and investment. The countries that have grown the most economically for decades did so because of the great contribution of migrants. As occurred in Venezuela in the late 70s, or with countries like the United States that are full of migrants.
“Migration adds value, knowledge, and skill.”
For example, in Europe rice companies grew by 300% thanks to the arrival of migrants who consumed much of that product. It is a chain; the migrants began to demand rice and then their subsequent sales grew: that impelled the production and the hiring of new workers for cultivating and harvesting rice. Migration adds value, knowledge, and skill.