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From Disney to Chavez: Venezuelan Migrants in the U.S.
Lourdes Gouveia, Ph.D., Rogelio Saenz, Ph.D y Jasney Cogua, Ph.D. (publicado en 2011-06-23 por yessicm2010 )
Publicado y/o Presentado en:
IV Congreso de la Red Internacional de Migración y Desarrollo. Crisis Global y Estrategias Migratorias: hacia la redefinición de las políticas de movilidad. 18, 19 y 20 de Mayo del 2001. Flacso-Quito, Ecuador.
Much like the rest of Latin America, Venezuela succumbed to the combined and devastating impacts of the debt crisis of the 1980s and the free-market policies purportedly aimed at overcome it. The collapse of national industries, rising unemployment, currency devaluations and the erosion of safety nets inaugurated an era of unprecedented poverty (nearly 80% by the early 1990s), political unrest, increasing crime rates and widespread corruption (particularly in the financial and governmental sectors). These events, combined with heightened class and ideological polarization under the controversial administration of President Hugo Chavez, have helped transformed Venezuela from an immigrant to an emigrant country. The majority of these migrants hail from the largest cities and from the higher socio-economic ranks. Many were trained in United States universities as engineers, scientists and telecommunication specialists during the 1970s. Oil not only financed an ambitious, state-led, industrialization program, but one of the largest national scholarship programs for study abroad (Gran Mariscal de Ayacucho scholarship program) and expanding middle class. The collapse of that industrialization model dampened many of these U.S.-trained professionals, and would-be migrants,expectations for uninterrupted social mobility or a middle-class lifestyle somewhat unrealistically set to U.S. standards. Under President Chavez administration, the reversal of neoliberal policies of privatization and state de-regulation, has led to an even deeper restructuring of the domestic economy. The collapse of direct foreign investment and the rechanneling of resources away from the professional middle class and toward the social budget, have further diminished the hopes of formally-educated Venezuelans to realize their home-spun version of the American dream at home. Moreover, the mass consumerism that had provided a social glue and kept the poorest strata content or at a distance, began to collapse in the 1980s. Under the Chavez administration, social divisions have been exacerbated. This fact, combined with a whole host festering social problems and the collapse of societal institutions, has engendered a climate of generalized insecurity and increasing levels of crime and violence. This has caused many Venezuelan middle class professionals to view migration as, not simply a means toward upward mobility, but a necessary step to protect their families from inevitable harm.