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Chavez and crime feeds growing Venezuelan exodus

Tuesday, July 24th 2007 - 21:00 UTC
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Venezuelan emigration is growing up Venezuelan emigration is growing up

Political uncertainty and crime are scaring thousands of Venezuelans from their country who are looking for better opportunities overseas according to Mequieroir.com, (iwanttoleave.com) web site which advises people who want to leave the country.

"Each time president Hugo Chavez says he will remain in power, visits to our web soar", said Esther Bermudez from Mequieroir.com. "At the beginning of the year when Chavez announced his nationalization plans, the number of daily visits jumped from 20.000 to 60.000. Something similar happened following the 2004 referendum, but never as what is happening now". Venezuelan emigration is soaring: in Spain the number of registered immigrants jumped from 9.482 in 1999 (when Chavez first took office) to 52.916 this year, but this does not include Venezuelans with Spanish passports. In 2006, the Spanish embassy in Caracas issued 33.000 passports for the descendents of some of the 350.000 Spaniards that migrated to Venezuela between 1930 and 1965. "It's an exodus like that of Cuba in the sixties; we're looking like them even in this. No wonder they call us the "balseros" (boat people) of the air", said Manuel Cortiña, a journalist who was forced to migrate to his parents' home country Spain. The profile of Venezuelans searching for information to leave the country has changed drastically in the last six years from single men and women to whole families and parents with adolescents who fear for the future of their children, according to Bermudez. "Uncertainty about the future and physical insecurity, because of ballooning crime are the main causes". They are mostly middle and high class Venezuelans. It is estimated that 1.5 million Venezuelans live overseas of which 300.000 in Florida, US plus over 100.000 in Spain. Other destinations include Canada, 20.000; Australia, 10.000 and countries in the region such as Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica and Panama who are interested in attracting small and medium Venezuelan entrepreneurs.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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