Greeks in Venezuela have condemned the decision by Greece to close its embassy in Caracas after 43 years of continuous operation.
In a letter addressed to the new foreign minister Giorgos Gerapetritis, community leaders appeal to Athens to reconsider its decision. “We consider the suspension of the operation of the Embassy unacceptable and unworthy of the relations between the two countries.”
The letter posted on the Facebook page of the Greek Orthodox Community of Venezuela, says that the closure of the Embassy “causes intense concern to more than 2,500 Greeks living in the county and thousands of their relatives in Greece.”
Greeks of Venezuela say the Embassy was a bond with the homeland
“The suspension of the operation of the Embassy deprives the Greeks in Venezuela of the opportunity to create a bond with their homeland, the country of origin of their parents. It creates a feeling of insecurity and uncertainty as well as a psychology of abandonment from the homeland,” the letter says.
Since the beginning of its operation, the Embassy has been a center of vital importance for the Greeks of Venezuela.
The Greek presence in Venezuela is more than a century old. A man called “Kalimios” founded the company of “Ferry-Boats” in Maracaibo Lake in 1922.
Most of the Greeks still living in the country came in 1948, immediately after the end of World War II, due to the prevailing conditions of poverty and unemployment in Europe.
Most were of Greek origin, born in Greece or in neighboring countries, but of Greek parents or grandparents. Of the group of about 160 who come to Venezuela in that year, about 30 were from Romania, between 30 and 40 were from Germany and the rest from Greece.
2,000 more Greeks arrived later between 1955 and 1957. After these groups, immigration decreased, and since 1960, the majority of those who come do so for family reunification.
These Greeks came to the country primarily for economic reasons, attracted by newscasts, written advertisements and films in which they talked about Venezuela, oil and the need for immigrants to agricultural and industrial activities.
Most of the arrivals in 1948 and 1955-1957 remained in Caracas. Those who settled across the country moved to Miranda, Lara, Zulia, Aragua and Carabobo state.
Greeks in the era of Maduro
Living in Venezuela today under the regime of Nicolás Maduro is not easy. Since 2013 the country, once the richest in Latin America, has been undergoing a great crisis, the largest and most devastating on the continent in many years.
Several Greeks living in Venezuela spoke to Greek Reporter recently. The case of a young man of Greek descent is just one example of the desperate situation faced by Venezuelans today.
For him, the situation in the country is worse than what the media shows; it is a challenge to just live in the country, he told Greek Reporter on condition of anonymity. “You can live, but it is difficult; you can see that in the number of migrants who do not stop leaving the country every day, due to the crisis,” the young man said.
A Greek lawyer in Caracas said that he does not see a future in the country, least of all for young people.
“The best thing is that the younger generations go out to look for opportunities. The vast majority have left the country. There are no good salaries; the health system lacks many resources as well as education and housing”.
He was born in Agios Nikolaos, a small town in Crete, Greece; he arrived in Venezuela in 1973, with his brothers and his parents. Today he is a lawyer, teacher, and writer and stands out in all his chosen fields.