Venezuela’s Productive Class Is Leaving The Countryby Doug Mataconis
As Hugo Chavez continues in his quest to drag the nation of Venezuela into the hell hole known as the “worker’s paradise”, those Venezuelans who can afford it are packing up and leaving in ever increasing numbers:
As Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez further tightens control of the South American country’s economy, wealthy Venezuelans who once thought they could live with his socialist edicts are turning to their backup plan – flight to the United States, particularly Florida.
Venezuelans have long gobbled up condos and pre-construction deals in Florida as investments, but the latest buyers want homes where they can live and business properties that will help them earn a green card.
“First the people who come are the businessmen in the highest circles, then the losing politicians, then the military and then the professionals,” said Miami-based immigration attorney Oscar Levin. “You’re beginning to see the (Venezuelan) professionals.”
This latest and largest potential group of emigrants say they fear the effect Chavez’s socialist policies will have on the economy and on proposed educational reforms that could mirror the ideologically imbued education of Chavez ally and mentor, Cuba’s Fidel Castro.
And, as Chavez comes to even more closely resemble his hopefully soon-to-be-dead mentor, the number of people getting out of the country is increasing:
Between 2000 – a year after Chavez took office – and 2005, the number of Venezuelans living in the U.S. doubled to about 160,000, according to the latest U.S. Census numbers. Nearly half live in Florida.
But those numbers are deceptive.
In 2005, 10,645 Venezuelans received their green cards allowing them to live in the United States, almost doubling the 6,222 who received them in 2004, according to the latest Department of Homeland Security statistics. And another 400,000 Venezuelans came to the United States in 2005 on business and tourism visas. It is unclear how many stayed.
Colombia, with nearly twice Venezuela’s roughly 27 million residents, sent the same number that year.
And it’s not just rich Venezuelans who are trying to leave. As I noted back in January, Venezuelans from all economic groups have been lining up at American and foreign embassies in Caracas for the visa that will allow them to leave the country.
We can, I think, expect more of this as Venezuelas slide into socialism continues. There is one thing that could save the country, and it’s something that has happened in Central and South American before when leftist regimes started going too far. A military coup that deposes Chavez and puts the country back on the road to sanity would not necessarily be a bad thing right now.