- Norberto Paredes
- BBC News World
In 2018, when the economic crisis hitting Venezuela hit rock bottom, Delin Bracho decided to seek a better future abroad, as millions of his compatriots had already done.
“The situation was terrible. No work, no food, nothing,” the 35-year-old recalled in an interview with BBC Mundo.
Her husband and sister had already left so she didn’t think twice.
Grabbing her passport, she left the town of Valera in western Venezuela’s Trujillo state with her three children for Ducubita, in the extreme east of the country.
After nearly two days of bus travel, a ferry was waiting for her near Tsubita that would take her to the unknown island of Trinidad.
Trinidad and Tobago It is an island nation 11 kilometers off the northeast coast of Venezuela.
Because of its proximity, it has become one of the countries with the highest per capita rate of Venezuelan immigrants in the world. About 40,000 immigrants were born in Venezuela, a country of 1.4 million people.
In her homeland, Taylin had always been a hard-working and ambitious woman, but she couldn’t find a way to break into the Trinidadian job market because she didn’t have many connections and didn’t speak English, the official language of the former British colony. .
In addition, he promises to deal with the “discrimination” that, according to him, Venezuelan immigrants suffer on the island.
Many Trinidadians think that Venezuelans only come to work Bars or brothels. “Unfortunately, Venezuelan women in Trinidad have a reputation for stealing husbands,” she says.
“Of course there are prostitutes like the rest of the world. There is no denying that. But the majority of us are honest and professional women who want to work and move forward with our families,” she continues.
Although she studied psychology in Venezuela, she was encouraged by her father who insisted she get a degree. His interest It was always organizing events.
“I made pinatas in Venezuela from the age of 18, dressed up to entertain children at children’s parties, and dedicated my whole life to that. But here in Trinidad I started cleaning houses, and I did that job for a month.”
He soon realized that Discrimination was also waged.
“Venezuelan immigrants in Trinidad don’t want to pay a day like they pay a local person. For example, in a job that pays a local 250 Trinidadian dollars, they have to pay a Venezuelan 150 or 120”.
He says that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. He decided it would be best to start his own business.
After many setbacks, Tailin wanted to continue doing what he knew and started his small business “What’s the Detail” to attract Trinidadian customers.
“This is the name I had in Venezuela, but only Venezuelan customers came, as in Spanish. That’s why my business is called now. ‘Balloon Decorations by Tails‘”.
Knowing firsthand the precarious work conditions many Venezuelan immigrants experience, Taylin also started a program to support other female immigrant entrepreneurs on the island.
On March 5th last year, I created the group “Venezuelan businesswomanAndNo” (Venezuelan Business Women), a network to advise, share ideas and support the efforts of its members.
Initially, the group consisted of 17 women who pooled all their savings to open hairdressing, decorating, pastry, fast food and children’s party animation businesses.
“There are only 11 left now, many have returned to Venezuela or moved to another country,” explains Taylin, who would like more women to join.
Most of the team members are professionals who continue to do the jobs they did in their homelands, but others have learned new trades to enter the Trinidadian job market.
“Some of us offer courses We teach other women Our business”, continues the Venezuelan businessman.
“We also do activities like Zumba with a teacher to strengthen the community and encourage other immigrants to join the group to learn about entrepreneurship.”
Racism and Racism
“Entrepreneurship is an interesting aspect of immigration to other countries in Venezuela,” says Sebastian Alcina, a researcher at the London School of Economics (LSE). and Tobago.
“Many professionals work in factories because their titles are not valid in other countries and because of the language barrier, because they do not speak English,” the international migration expert continues.
“Those are the reasons For that they mainly decide to undertake“.
Alcina confirms that many Venezuelan women in Trinidad also face a huge stigma, which has continued to worsen in recent years.
“The women I’ve talked to say they suffer from racism because they have light skin, and some Trinidadians see them as a threat.”
“Others who worked in the hospitality industry told me they received racist insults from customers. They also told me they wanted to pay them less for immigrants, so they saw entrepreneurs as the only way out,” he adds. Researcher.
A 2019 International Organization for Migration (IOM) report in which 2,166 Venezuelan migrants were interviewed in Trinidad. 70% felt discriminated against Because of their nationality.
Encourage other women
Yamis Fernández was one of the first members of the “Venezuelan Business Woman” group and is today its Vice President.
I am coming towards the wind2018 began with clearing houses in an area east of Caracas to Trinidad and the city of San Fernando in the west of the island.
A few months later, thanks to contacts in the city, she got a job as a pastry chef in a bakery, where she learned to make cakes professionally.
After the epidemic, he decided to leave the bakery and start his own business.Yamis Bakery“.
“The labor market for migrants in Trinidad is very dangerous. You can get a job, but they are paid less,” the 28-year-old told BBC Mundo.
According to her, the purpose of the “Venezuelan Business Women” group is not only to help her compatriots start businesses.
“We strive to end stigmas, It’s important to give them visibility, to prove that there are fighting and passionate Venezuelan women”.
Taylin, for her part, wants to encourage and inspire female entrepreneurs.
“We want to be an example to other immigrants in Latin America. I have friends who immigrated to other South American countries. Ecuador, Peru or ChileAnd some people tell me they feel discriminated against,” he adds.
“Maybe these entrepreneurial stories will inspire other women to do the same.”
For now he feels comfortable in Trinidad, a business that is thrivingSometimes you wish you could go back to Venezuela.
“But I think about the future of my children, I hear stories about the current state of the country, and I feel that it will be many years before I can return to Valera.”
Similarly, Yamis assures that, regardless of the “many obstacles,” he can progress as an immigrant in Trinidad and other countries in the region.
“I have already registered my business. There are many women with thoughts and dreams. But they don’t know that they can make it come true“, says Parloventena.
His is to open a bakery, which he hopes to accomplish next year.
“Many women resign themselves and get used to being discriminated against. They tell me: ‘There’s nothing more to do, they’ve already pigeonholed us all’. But that’s not true. Everything is possible, you just have to keep going. , work a lot and have a lot of patience. want”.
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