Caruzo: What TPS for Venezuelans Means for Those of Us Still in Venezuela

A person passes by a mural painting with a caricature of US President George W.Bush (R) in Caracas on September 12, 2008. The US Treasury announced Friday it was freezing any US assets of two senior Venezuelan officials and a former official after accusing them of aiding Colombian rebels involved …
JUAN BARRETO/AFP via Getty Images

CARACAS, Venezuela – The Biden Administration recently provided Temporary Protected Status to approximately 320,000 Venezuelans living in the United States, granting them safe stay in America and allowing them to work.

It’s a welcomed move for Venezuelans living in America, but those like me – still living in Venezuela and wrestling daily against the disastrous and inexorable collapse of Hugo Chavez’s Socialism of the 21st Century – it means a tacit confirmation that things will not improve for us at all. It means that it will all remain as-is and it sends a message that the best course of action is to just escape.

I, by no means, mean ill-wishes or intend to rain on the parade for my fellow 320,000 Venezuelans. I am glad that they will get some proper normalcy with regard to their migrant status. The few Venezuelans that voted for Biden actually got what they were offered during Biden’s campaign – a TPS (or Temporary Protective Status) was the main allure of the Democrats for the admittedly small Venezuelan vote in the U.S. – and yet, such a generous offer didn’t do much to sway Venezuelans from supporting the GOP during these past elections.

The crux of the problem lies in the fact that the letter “T” doesn’t stand for temporary. There are enough precedents of similar TPS decrees that have simply been renewed over and over with time, turning the letter T into a P for perpetual. Why would Venezuela be the sole exception?

This, plus the fact that we’re politically stuck with the Venezuelan “opposition” and the inert Juan Guaidó, means that nothing will change for our once prosperous country. After 22 years of Revolution that encompass two whole thirds of my life under the same regime and the same opposition, I don’t have hope that things will change for the better. Our political crisis is good business for both the regime and the opposition, while we Venezuelan citizens in Venezuela are the ones that have to deal with the consequences.

And while we do so – and while many, without a doubt, are rightfully deserving of the benefits of TPS – there will inevitably be chavistas benefitting from the TPS’ blanket coverage and quasi-perpetual nature.

Many down here feel disgusted at seeing former chavista judges now living in America, offering their paid services to prepare TPS applicants’ paperwork. We’re no strangers to the luxurious and ostentatious life of the Boliburgueses, (Bolibourgeoisie, a portmanteau of the words “Bolivarian” and “bourgeoise”), a nouveau riche caste of corrupt rich socialists and people who made huge money by engaging in shady businesses with the socialist regime of Venezuela, many of whom prefer to live in capitalist Miami than in socialist Caracas.

Their businesses and antics have been well documented over the past years, and often involve laundering money in Miami through the purchase of real estate — properties that they will now be able to enjoy comfortably with the newfound benefits of the TPS.

For one Venezuelan woman who fled to the United States, this meant seeing Octavio Rivero Maita, the chavista man who assaulted and tortured her while kept in a Bolivarian Intelligence Service jail for 40 days for opposing Maduro’s regime, in her new country. Rivero Maita is a potential beneficiary of Biden’s TPS.

For Iván Simonovis, former chief of police in Caracas who is now living in the U.S. after being imprisoned for 15 years, it must’ve been extremely infuriating to see Antonio Amado Molina, the man responsible for his long captivity, casually strolling through the streets of Miami without no care in the world. To this day, many of the men imprisoned alongside Simonovis still remain confined to a cell. Amado Molina can potentially apply for the TPS.

While former Venezuelan socialist diplomat Martin Sanchez now works for Facebook, training the big tech conglomerate’s algorithms that create the narratives and contexts fed to you by the media, I’ve had to spend this week keeping constant watch on our water distribution so that everyone in this building is not left without water, jury-rigging my constantly failing internet connection so that I can submit these lines, carefully measuring what I say online because I am always one tweet or meme away from getting a 20-year “hate speech” sentence here, and skipping a heartbeat at every fluctuation in electric power, because each and every one of them can be a death sentence for my old appliances and computer. Still, all of this pales in comparison to what many face down here. I have much to be thankful for, because some do have it far worse here. I, at least, have food.

It’s not a matter of jealousy or envy towards any of the 320,000 Venezuelans, it’s just that there will be chavistas benefiting from the TPS while my brother who, because of me and what I do, is at constant risk of being victim to the socialist regime’s forced disappearance of family members, which always culminate in torture.

There’s no protected status for him, as neither of us will even get to board a plane without a U.S. visa. I am one of the last fools on the planet still trying to migrate legally, despite how uphill it all has been for me and how difficult my brother’s case is – who, due to his mental condition, is morally under my care, but not legally. As a man who once worked in a consular office for three years, I know a promise I made on my mother’s deathbed doesn’t carry much legal weight when it comes to visa applications, regardless of the country in question.

I am fully aware of the severity of the crisis that is unfolding at the U.S. southern border, and I’m in no way advocating for open borders, nor would I ever, not even when I am part of the worst migrant crisis in the region. According to the Organization of American States, this crisis has already made over 5.4 million Venezuelans leave this socialist paradise, nearly 20 percent of Venezuelans.

But that’s what the TPS means for the people still here. It simply means “flee, because this ain’t gonna change.” The fact that the Cisneros family (who in the past were at odds with Hugo Chávez but then chose to coexist with it the socialist regime for the sake of their business) is now seeking to acquire cheap assets in our destroyed economy is yet another demoralizing confirmation that there is no way out for a Venezuelan citizen other than to escape.

As desperate as I may be to escape from this country, the allure of the Democrats’ TPS does nothing for me, because even though I was young during the Obama/Biden administration, I am fully aware that it was during those eight years that Hugo Chávez (and then Nicolás Maduro) spread their influence throughout the region while they did nothing. Why would things be any different with an even older Biden now as president? It may sound hypocritical, but if this is how things will be, then I want my brother to have the same safety chavistas now have in America.

This perpetual TPS means that we will be stuck with Maduro and the Socialist Party’s usurpation of power, and stuck with Juan Guaidó, for all of eternity — and if that’s the case, then I want no part of it. I’ve already had enough of this socialist disaster that I had no part in creating. I’ve already lost my mother, much of my health, and most of my young years. I don’t want to lose anything else. To feel this demoralized and defeated is a sensation I don’t want in my life, but living in this country infects you with hopelessness on a daily basis.

Congratulations to the beneficiaries of the TPS. Please make the most out of your newfound life in America and be good and respectful to the country that’s now hosting you and your family and their customs. I sincerely hope that none of you or your descendants ever, ever forget why you fled in the first place and risked everything by remaining illegally in the U.S. all this time. I, for one, will never forget who and what I’ve lost to socialism.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.

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