Rome, – Every time there is an “important political event” in Hugo Chavez’s Venezuela it is accompanied by a peak in visits to the website www.mequieroir.com. That was the word to Il Velino from Esther Bermudez, the director of the portal that offers Venezuelans (and Latin-Americans in general) information to help plan a stay – or an entire life — abroad.
It happened when the government decided to nationalize oil resources and again with the referendum that confirmed Chavez in power, to cite but two examples. El Paнs reported on this phenomenon recently. And it is no accident: “Spain is the number one European destination for Latin-Americans, for evident linguistic reasons”, Bermudez explained.
And Italians on the continent? “Many are looking for a way back to Europe: it’s a phenomenon that concerns Italo-Venezuelans (as it does Italo-Argentinians, to cite one of the most significant communities) of the second and third generations.”
Fathers and grandfathers born in Italy, in general, don’t return. Sons and grandsons “count on dual nationality for the chance of a future in the European Union”.
Outside Europe, preferences go for Canada and Australia, Bermudez said. Information on the bureaucratic procedures required for emigration come from embassies and are re-elaborated by mequieroir to make them more readily understandable.
Is Italy a desirable destination for Latin-Americans?
“In general, Italy is chosen as a destination for study trips. People go to learn the language and for the culture. It’s less interesting as a place to work.”
The picture is substantially confirmed by a spokesman for the Italian embassy in Caracas. “There have been moments when we have received very many requests for passports. That doesn’t mean the Italians of Venezuela are planning to leave the country, but just that they want to have their documents in order,” the embassy source told Il Velino.
The desire to leave is not necessarily dictated by economic consideration, since alongside high inflation there has also been strong economic growth since 2003. It is rather the ideological tendency of the Chavez government that feeds the anxiety affecting the Italian community, he said.
Among the 130,000 Italians registered with the Italian authorities in Caracas and Maracaibo, and a similar number who are not registered but who could recover their citizenship, people are not necessarily looking to return to their land of origin. “Many young people are interested in Italy as a place to study,” the source said.
The Italian community is highly productive, having in large part emigrated to Venezuela in the inter-war period, and is made up of technicians, builders, and engineers who help to maintain the country’s infrastructure. “Their serenity is disturbed by structural problems, such as the security issue, and by others relating to contingent circumstances, such as the frequent ideological seizures of the Venezuelan president,” the source said.
Italo – Venezuelans and their presence in modern Venezuela
Before it was discovered that Venezuela has a huge deposits of oil, not many Italians dared to migrate to this Latin country. Everything started in the first half of the 20th century where large numbers of Italians choose Venezuela as their future country and then the migrations started. During the 40s and 50s, the president of Venezuela Marcos Perez Jimenez, aware of the situation in his country which was struggling with a lack of people, decided to popularize migrations from Europe to this country. During that time more than 300.000 Italians moved to Venezuela. But, a large number of them returned to Italy later.
In the 60s, Italians founded the largest European community in Venezuela, called Venezuelan census. In the 70s there were more than 200.000 Italians in Venezuela and during the 80s that number grew up to 400.000. This also includes second generation descendants who continued to live here. At the beginning of the 21st century, some estimates say that there is a nearly one million of Italians living in Venezuela. And they have at least one descendant from Italy. Nowadays, that number has decreased for a 50,000 people. Some of them have died and some of them returned to Italy, due to an economic crisis that is currently shaking Venezuela.
Italian ambassador in Venezuela says that 5-6% of Venezuelan population has Italian origin. The Italian population is mainly engaged in agriculture, and that is their main way of income. Forming Italian communities all over the state.