About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Araminta against a wooden background

Araminta Gonzaléz

Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Belal Darder Mohamed

“Before arriving in Spain my dream was to be a chemistry engineer and do a Master’s degree in nanotechnology anywhere in the world,” says Araminta Gonzaléz (38). Araminta came to Europe in 2017, after having been arrested and imprisoned in her home country of Venezuela. Her life since then has been challenging – her experience as a political prisoner has made it difficult to trust new people, and she finds that life can be “very lonely,” especially during the pandemic. She copes by reading, working with her psychiatrist, and doing her best to look on the bright side. “I’m just trying to consume the world as it comes. Everything I want to see, everything I want to play, everything I want to recognize again, everything I want to study again.” In Spain, Araminta is now working at a lab, studying new regulations, and learning something every day. She is working toward her Master’s in nanotechnology and getting her driver’s license: “At this moment my goals are small and simple and little by little.”

Trigger Warning: Death, police brutality, suicidal thoughts, torture

full interview

Let’s see, tell me a little bit about where you live now.
Now I’m in Pamplona, Noain.

Uh, a very nice little town.
I just left 99 inhabitants because the one hundredth is me. [Both laugh]. Where it is now, everything, absolutely everything, is closed. Because they live with the panic of Coronavirus [laughs]. And… I don’t know how they live, but everything closes at midday now.
And… it’s, it’s like a very industrial town. We only have like two cafes, two bakeries, a gas station, a park…
Ah, of course, the three bars on the corner [laughs] and the laundromat. And there are very few people who dare to rent rooms because they are very close-minded. And, well…It happens that those who dare to rent rooms are Latinos. I live with a family of Ecuadorians and a Colombian who is also hosted. And they have two children and one on the way.
Three children!
You know that they are, they’re Latino. [laughs]. The family is prolific.

And what do you do in your day-to-day?
Well, I usually go to work, at, I start work at 7 am and leave at 5 pm. Um…My daily work currently is… I work in a raw material analysis laboratory. Any kind of eventualities that happen there in the lab. I’m still in training right now. It’s only been two months since arriving here in Navarra because August doesn’t count [laughs]. When I arrived, I arrived with vacation included.

Ah, okay.
And they go on vacation, they close the floor and… in August… I mean, they hired me on the 30th of June and when August began, “see you”.

“See you the 22nd, see you on August 22nd”. And paid leave.

But they pay you, don’t they?
Yes, I got paid for the vacation!

Good for you, right? Good for you. I have 22 days, I don’t know what to do.
No, I went to Madrid, just to be quarantined there.

Well, Madrid in August. Uff…
No, no, because my sisters are virus freaks.

Okay, okay.
The oldest one got the virus.

What do you do to feel… to have a good time?
I go to the gym. Umm… I try to get my feet to gain some rhythm. I go to a Zumba class to take some lessons of I don’t know what kind of dance.

I thought all Latin Americans had the rhythm.
No, I’m sorry, it’s not true, they have lied to you [laughs]. I don’t know anything about that, the only thing that I kind of master is cooking, because I’m a chemist and… nothing, what else…? I study, later I go home, cook, and start studying. I was doing a course, a chemical plant process certification and I just finished, Saturday morning at 5 a.m.

Very good, very good.
So let’s say, what you do is cooking, going to the gym, study…very good, very good. And sometimes I read.

How do you describe your life here in Navarra, or in Spain in general?
Very lonely.

Very lonely?
Yes, yes, it is not the same as in Venezuela and on the weekends or any free time where you go to see some friends, go to the movies, do anything. Over here my life runs between going from one place to another [laughs], it takes me like 3 or 4 hours to be able to get from one place to another.

And how does this make you feel?
Isolated. But I’m already trying to fix it. With the driver’s license.

Are you trying to get your driver’s license?
Yes, yes, I’m going for my second try.

That’s good.
It turned out to be harder than I thought.

I still haven’t got mine, either, so don’t worry about it. My girlfriend took me to places.
You have a taxi, I don’t, then I need a boyfriend to take me.

And… Can you tell me… How, how you deal with this loneliness? Aside from the driver’s license.
How do I deal with what?

With this loneliness, with this new life here in Spain.
How do I deal with it? Trying to get to know the laws here, not to transgress them. Uh… studying every day, because here the rules are different from those in my country. I feel like I always have to level up because I’m behind others, because I have to get used to how they say things here, how the processes work here, to the technology that varies incredibly faster here. I have not finished learning one thing when the next one is coming. And… Well…My everyday challenge is to learn something different.

And, do you think speaking Spanish before getting here helps you a lot or it does not, or it doesn’t help?
Well, I would have said yes. But culturally they have ways of saying and doing things very different to how… how I know they are usually done in a lab. And that is to say that we used to work by international standards in my country. Here… they have ways of talking and saying things very different to how I know them and it’s as I were… And sometimes to communicate it is as if we were speaking another language.And I almost draw like little diagrams when I talk to them, and we speak Spanish, but they say they cannot understand me and I don’t understand them either. And then, when I’m going to talk to them about any kind of doubt I have regarding the procedure, I almost do a drawing…with colors.

To explain.
Yes and mimic. I take the bottle. I take pictures.

So, speaking the same language, there is an obstacle. There are obstacles in communication, but at work and in daily life too? Or just at work?
For now, my work, because daily life I don’t have much. I don’t have much of a life. I don’t have much of social life, not really [laughs].

How long have you been here in Spain?
Three years. But no, still not. I haven’t managed… To connect with people or anything like that yet. I spent almost a year and a half with depression. And the other year and a half, uh, recovering and starting to work and doing my things and just focusing on achieving my work goal. The homologation of the title.

Talk to me a little bit about the homologation of the title and if you can turn up the volume a little bit. If you can turn it up? I am sorry if you can turn it up. It’s just that I’m a little deaf.
No, excuse me. I, It’s just that I talk like that.

If you can turn it up…
You have to tell me to speak louder and I…

I’ll modulate my voice.

Tell me a little bit about the homologation of your degree, because according to what I’ve been told, it’s a very long and bureaucratic process.
Very long and cumbersome, it’s true. But it’s because we don’t know it. Uh, for example, in my country, I am a technical engineer, in the chemical process with more than 340 or more than 240 hours of study, so here it would be a degree. But when I go to homologize, they tell me it’s not a degree because in the front it says TC because it’s true, my country is a senior university technician.

It’s just a problem of terminology, isn’t it?
It is a form of the term, but in a way to give weight to the load… it’s about workload… the number of hours and the courses load. I have enough for it to be considered a degree. And what I achieved here was okay, I didn’t reach the title of Bachelor’s degree but then they set me back like three steps. But it doesn’t matter, this allows me to work. That’s why I’m doing the certifications to put more weight and achieve the equivalent of having a degree.

And how did this make you feel? Having to go through all this process b for a while…
A depression [laughs]. But well, it also gave me the opportunity to study the new processes that are here, the new one… how you say things here so that they can understand me, uh,, the, the legal part. The Official State Bulletins that are associated with the things that I studied, the way that the documentary procedures are done here which is very complex, and all that I can see just doing the certification, studying little by little, and the degree I obtain with life-long subjects which are chemistry and mathematics, and those, that are universal.

You tell me that you’re always trying to see the side, not to see the dark side, see the brighter side.
I saw the dark side for a long time.

Would you say it is one of your qualities? Always trying to see the bright side?
It’s not one… It’s something I’ve been trying to develop [laughs] for almost three years. I was imprisoned in my country. And… I didn’t think I was going to get out of there alive and I thought I’d die there. And I was obsessed that before they killed me I would kill myself. So for three years, I tried to kill myself. It was a very strong depression. Everything they told me and everything they did to me just made me sink a little bit further. And it was hard for me to remove the victim stigma. And it was hard for me to go afloat and give me the courage that… I actually have. And I try not to fall again in that, in that, in that loop. It was a loop. It was circular. Sometimes I got up and sometimes I stayed down. And… It was that in my country they always gave me hope that next year the regime was going to fall! And then we’re gonna get you out of jail. You’re not going to stay there, you’re not going to stay like this. Look, up to this day, I still don’t know how I got out of there. But I got out and in honor of my lawyers who had faith in me, that they practically saved my life. And I think I took off my makeup [laughs]. And well, this new opportunity I have to live. Everyone tells me that God has something has you determined for something, I still don’t know what that something is. I’m just trying to consume the world as it comes. Everything I see, everything I hear, everything I want to see, everything I want to play, everything I want to recognize again, everything I want to study again. Because the person leaving jail is not the same person who entered. I don’t recognize myself in a mirror. I can’t… have interactions with other people. Because I feel violated, I don’t know how to explain the situation that happened to me. I don’t know. I don’t know whether to explain it or not. I don’t know if I should tell or not. That’s why I’m in control with Dr. Maria Angeles, my psychologist, and before her, I had a psychiatrist. And I’m under medication. And well, she’s the one who has helped me a lot to see the positive side of things and not feeling so many emotions when I talk about these things. I used to tremble, had physiological reactions, I couldn’t talk about it because it made me go to the bathroom and vomit. And if I let out three tears, if I let out three tears now, at that moment I’d sob uncontrollably.

And now this isn’t like that?
Not so much, but yes, yes, of course, it always hits me. I don’t know, it’s that’s always going to be a part of me, that I won’t ever be able to separate from. But I can live with it. It helped me get to know a part of my country that I didn’t know. I would have never imagined that persecution existed. What jail is like on the inside… And the evil within people…And that the people you think are there for the long haul, whom you can trust in those moments… You can’t, you’re alone. I only had my sisters and my lawyers. Those nice people who got in my way. Stil today, I continue, I continue, I keep calling them my lawyers, and it was six years ago. Three years, four years, four years.

You’ve been through a very difficult situation, Araminta.
If I told you exactly why I went to jail, but well, I’m not sure.

Yes, yes. Again I repeat, if you are not comfortable with saying something, do not say it. You’re in total control. I wanted to ask you about your qualities. What do you think helped you through all this and face all this at a personal level? No… You don’t need to tell me anything about the country, but what qualities helped you get through this.
It is not patience, because it is not true. I am absolutely impatient. I don’t know what to tell you about qualities, because I really feel like the most flawed person in the world.

I would say that quality of yours is always trying to see the silver lining. You’ve crossed this whole bureaucratic labyrinth of the Spanish State trying to take advantage of this, trying to take advantage of that, saying you’ve learned from this, didn’t you? Tryi…
Because I had to read it, taking advantage of what I like to read. Well, that may be a quality – I like to read.

All right, literature or…
Everything, I even read philosophy.

You do?
And now I’m with classic liberalism.

Classical literature?
No, classic liberalism.

Classical liberalism? Like… Give me an example.
See, I started with Ayn Rand’s readings, The Fountainhead and the other is called Atlas Shrugged. I loved them. I kept searching and found one of the names Smith and Hayek. And well, that’s where I started. I started to like it and here I started to read that kind of thing.

Do you think reading helps you?
Helps the process I’ve been through in my country, quite a lot. It helps me know “ah so that’s how we got here” because they detail, at least Ayn Rand and in her fantasy, as it’s practically a fiction book that places… where there is a world where geniuses, industrial people, who are called… those who run companies, the people with ideas. One day they revolted and they were summoned by a person named John Galt, who begins to tell them to leave the bureaucracy. Because the bureaucrats are simply putting their hands in their pockets which does not prevent… prevents that you develop ideas and they take advantage of it and you are then frustrated and at the mercy of them. We are going to a world where we only exist and we put the rules where the State does not exist. And well, that’s what it is, like some of them go to John Galt’s island and know who John Galt, and in fact it is the ultimate goal of liberals, to have an island in the middle of nowhere, where they themselves make their rules. I’m not that extremist either, but there are some things that I do agree with. Sometimes so much bureaucracy, so many laws, the excess of laws prevents you from doing, and flowing and doing what you like to do. Not so many laws are needed only with the main laws. Where they do not make people kill each other [laughs], some ethics as it is true that people who experimented beyond where they should and some regarding the economy because there are also people who are going beyond what they should but no more. The rest of the laws are excessive, and they prevent you from doing the research you need to do right now, for example, right now we’re living with a virus and nobody knows how to investigate it. Well, I would have sworn that with the greatest minds in the world like it is right now with so much technology there would already be a vaccine, and no, because there is first the legislation that requires you to [unintelligible]. Okay, it’s okay, I concede but it turns out that time-frames could be minimized if they divided the vaccine project into stages, in several phases among several countries and then they put all together, but they don’t do it because it’s a competition for countries to see who achieves the vaccine first. But if they’d divided it, they would obtain…

The vaccine, right?
Yes and also to divide the time, because the term given by law is simply because of the length of the project. On the other hand, if you divide amongst countries, you meet the deadline, you reach the deadline. And so many great minds haven’t achieved… haven’t got to that conclusion.

I imagine it makes you feel frustrated.
Yes, [laughs] especially because I thought here since the virus started, I said: “nothing… nothing is going to happen in Spain because we are in the First World”. If I were in my country, I would have been condemned to death. We would be all dead. A hundred thousand cases, twenty thousand cases, one million cases… [laughs].

Keep counting.
We’re going to die. Use the mask, now don’t use the mask, use this one, not this one anymore, now this one. Now I don’t want to use masks, why are you forcing me to wear them?

You said we’re in First World now. I want to ask you an essential question for me. Before you arrived in Spain, Europe, what was your dream?
My dream was to be…

If you can say “Before arriving…” because I’m going to do a… What is it called in Spanish? Like a quote so you have to say that “Before you arrived in Spain, Europe, my dream was…”
My dream was…

Can you say it?
Being a Chemistry engineer

Can you say it?
Do a Master’s degree.

Can say you it Araminta? “Before arriving in Spain…”
Before arriving in Spain my dream was to be a Chemistry engineer and do a Master’s degree in nanotechnology anywhere in the world. My dream was, before arriving in Spain, only to travel for tourism and not because I was fleeing from my country. That was my dream.

And now, “My dream now is…”
My dream now is to survive [laughs]. And try to achieve the master. But first, I have to be an engineer again [laughs]. So I’m going step by step. My first dream right now is to get my driver’s license, which would give me independence from public transport.
Yes, because everything is far, it takes almost 15 minutes from one place to another and I’m not used to these things.

How things changed, huh? That your dream now is to survive.
Yes, because at this moment you don’t know what’s going on. Today I have a job, but I have a temporary contract. I don’t know if I get to renew or if I get a job elsewhere or if I’m unemployed because the company falls into depression, because everything is very complicated right now. So… At this moment my goals are small and simple and little by little. I don’t want to see much further because I don’t know and it’s very uncertain. I don’t even dare look a year ahead. My goals are now monthly.

They’re short-term, aren’t they?
Monthly. Monthly, shorter than in the short term. And I dreamt of going to Barcelona and I went there two weeks ago.

And how did it go?
Oh… It’s awful to travel anywhere in the middle of this pandemic.

Really? You didn’t like it?
No, I loved it.

You loved the city.
Yes… what happens is that the friends I… The house I went to didn’t let me out because they said I was going to be contaminated with viruses and they only took me to the beach. And I thought, but there’s so much architecture, places, museums, La Sagrada Familia. Look, there it is.

From far away.
Yes, yes, they pointed it to me, over that tip where the cranes were “That is La Sagrada Familia if you want to take a picture of it.” I want to go in. Yes, yes. I even looked for the app. Look, we’re going in. There is for this Sunday we are going at 9 in the morning and you give me a chance to go on the bus back. They took me at 6 in the morning to the beach. To one that was far away, but I thought “why are we going to this one that is so far? if you live 5 minutes from the beach?”, we could go to the beach and we could look at La Sagrada Familia and go through the Paseo.

From the Ramblas?
No. They have a part called the Gothic Quarter, the gothic square.

The Gothic Quarter?
Gothic Quarter. I wanted to take pictures of dragons.

They’re called “gargoles” or something like that
No, Dragons, they’re dragons.

They’re dragons. Well, then I’m getting confused with the French cathedral
Gargoyles. No, they have them everywhere and are very iconic dragons.

And how is your family?
My family is in Madrid.

Yes, are they all right?
Thank God, yes.

That you have family nearby, I imagine it… that helps, doesn’t it?
Mmmmm Yes, yes, although-I say this because I am, for example, alone here. I don’t have any family. Rather, my psychologist recommended that I stay away because I was becoming dependent.

That, that you leave your comfort zone, right?
To keep me away from my comfort zone, because, in my house, I don’t go out and “who do you talk to?” My family. Uh, “and where do you go out?” With my family. “And what are you doing?” With my family. And here, well it forced me to go out. Okay, I don’t talk to other human beings, but I go to the gym, I have, I force myself to go to the gym. In fact, uh, the gym I’m going to is outside Noain, to force me to go out of Noain. And well, uh, my public relationships are just with the man at the gym who hands me the spray. Never in my life, it’s the only good thing about COVID, had I seen that a gym smelled like a clinic, usually it smells like testosterone and everything, but this time it smells like alcohol.

Yeah, yeah.
And if it is fruit-scented alcohol, the better.

And how… how did COVID affect you?
I felt like a prisoner again.

Yes, because I couldn’t do like, go out of- in Madrid it was stricter, no one could leave, uh, just a… I had to try to get out. It was also part of the people. And in my house, we took it very seriously. And we only went out to go shopping once or twice every two weeks.

So you quarantined very strictly, didn’t you?
When we came back we took off all the clothes, to boil them!

Wash everything.
With hot water and bleach the shoes. My sister damaged three pairs of my shoes by bleaching the bottom of them.

The soles?
On the sole. All groceries were taken out of the main container and washed with soap and water, you had to take a shower and not come into contact with people. Then, after depositing the groceries at the door, you came in, changed, bathed with hot water, you washed your clothes…

Then washing, washing all the groceries, right? Washing all the groceries with…
No, for the groceries my sister came, one of my sisters placed the groceries inside the kitchen, took them out of the first wrapper, washed them, and then she left them to dry. The mask was single-use and also gloves. I couldn’t go out on the street without gloves…

If all people acted like you, then there wouldn’t be coronavirus everywhere.
No, my sister is a microbiologist. I can’t go out. If, if my sister had been Minister, we would have already eliminated the microbe, the virus. She’s very strict, still. She already told me that she had prepared a room for me to stay in for the first three days and I “but I’m only going to be there for three days…”, “Fine.”

She forces you to quarantine again?
In fact, the, the time I came here to Pamplona and returned to Navarra, to Madrid, the 22 days I was locked up in a room.

Really? Oh my!
For decontamination. And if I went out, my sisters would wear a… their mask. But we were inside the house. “We don’t know who you’ve been with.”

I work in the lab, dude.
No, and back there, they made us here, here at this work we get PCRs done, and punctures. And I told them: I’m negative. You see? You see? You didn’t have to do that to me!

Good thing they haven’t told you to do another PCR, just in case.
No, I’m going to give them the negative result. We get a screening from time to time.

Yes? Periodically?

Very good, very good.
Just in case… Actually, I’ve seen that this is the community that does the most PCR tests and the most analysis of that kind. It’s obsessive!

Well, but now you have a lot of cases, don’t you?
Hey, yes, but it’s also because you have a lot of cases because you’re doing a lot of tests, too. Now at this time, we should not talk about the number of cases, but about the mortality rate. Because cases you are going to see… some amount. It’s a virus and you can catch it.

It’s a virus [incomprehensible]… that you can catch it…
and this…

Yes, it doesn’t work so much. It’s good for something, but it, it does not cancel all the possibility of being infected.
No, it doesn’t cancel the possibility, there is a small margin. Uh… But… Hey, the only way we can totally avoid it is for us to wear the suits…

Or that everybody stays at home, or everyone stays at home and that’s it.
, you can’t stay at home either. That’s not an option. The only option is to put on the waterproof suit and move on with your life. You can’t stop. I don’t see that as an option. It’s a virus, there is no cure, but you have to continue with your life, you can’t paralyze. We have already done it several times and we have seen that it does not go well. And the countries that are doing best, it’s because they didn’t stop. They continued with their life. With the protection? Yes. Exams? And that’s what has to be done. But they continue with their life. And that’s what needs to be done.

Because… Because also… Because, for life too, it has had other damages, right? Economically…
And those are harder.

Psychologically… These are more difficult to cope with.
Yes, because how do you explain to a family to face a case…? uh, if you stay with- without… unemployed, or who stays unemployed, has no money, their families appear ill, they, they get sick with the virus… How does he cope with these expenses? He has children or something like that, has someone of old age, dies. How does he cope with the expenses? You can’t make everything public spending, because there’s going to be a moment when the piggy bank no longer has money. We have to produce somehow. And well, I am partial to those kinds of ideas.

Can you talk a little bit about… about what happened with you in Venezuela?
Let’s see, in 2014 there were some protests which were very… strong.

Yes. And these protests were a little bit peaceful. It was already clear that the Regime was going to be cruel and ruthless. There had already been the first cases of persecution. People had already been killed during the demonstrations and I had already realized that this does not come out with…

What is your… What were your feelings at that time?
That the only way they were going to get out was going to be by force.

That’s an opinion, your feelings. How did you feel about the country, about the future?
That there was no future, that if I wanted to have a future, those people had to get out. And that I didn’t want to leave. I would never have imagined leaving my country. I was an ultranationalist. After all that happened to me, look, my ideas, my values, my opinions, everything… It was completely collapsed and displaced. The opinion I could have about my political leaders, the opinion I could have about the people around me… It all imploded, but the only thing I’m not going to regret or change my mind about is what I did and also the way they have to end the tyranny. That you can’t get out of a tyranny that is fundamentalist and whose only… function in life is to screw it for you. Well, I don’t know if you know what it is… Do you know what that word is?

Screw? Yes, yes, of course, it was the first word I learned in Spanish [laughs] more or less.
Well, all they want is to screw your life.

Uh… And the only way you can get through people who are armed to their teeth is simply to enter a form of power, just like them. Uh… I came up with the idea of making explosives and that’s the reason they put me in jail, for being a terrorist.

But you didn’t do anything?
No, I felt like in Tom Cruise’s film, Minority Report.

That they catch you before you do it, but you’re still thinking of it, just like that.

There was a film called Minority Report.
Minority Report.

Yes, Steven Spielberg’s.
Yes, that same one.
Well, then I realized that they bug your phones, that they bug… It was all because I was thinking about it and I hadn’t yet come to… But I was… I had the total intention of doing it. I was already like a normal scientist, doing my research, how do I do? What do I do? How am I going to do this?, Um, What is the mass, the weight, the acceleration? How is the size going to be? The diameter of the thing? And I was in my stuff and figuring out all my things online and all that kind of stuff didn’t… When I finally got the decisive part, which was electronics, because I don’t know anything about electronics. Uh… I finally managed to make a timer. With all the- with all the laws of laws, I said, well, now I have a timer. That’s as far as I got. That’s as far as I got, to the timer. When I already had my timer, I got all the force of the police, of everybody, the SWAT team, the whole joke, everything. Uh, “Are you Araminta González?”, “Yes”, “Cell phone, phone, against the floor, gun!”

How are you doing? How… How did…? For example, I remember very clearly the call that I received to tell me when I had to go to jail. I remember how I felt, so how did you feel?
The thing is that I had practically turned my apartment into a lab. When the police arrived and did all that, I fully knew that I was- why it was. I knew I was doing a dangerous activity. I mean, but I didn’t know to what extent they knew what I was doing. I didn’t know how far they could go. There were a lot of things I didn’t know. I didn’t know to what extent they were already getting into the communications. Until that time everything was simply an investigation. Something I came up with in madness. Up to this point, they didn’t even know what I wanted to do, why I was going to do it and I didn’t explain it to them either. My super crazy idea was to knock down statues of Chavez. That was my occurrence and that’s as far as it got. My way of showing strength to them was by knocking down the symbol of their power. To them, the cult was Chavez and for me, that was exactly my goal to destroy. I never explained it to them, but for them I was the worst person on earth and they treated me like Bin Laden’s little cousin. And they always told me a thousand times the question, and you know how to make explosives? Yes. I’m a scientist. And were you going to kill someone? -No. Were you thinking about… uh, overthrowing Maduro? -Yes.

You were very honest with them, weren’t you?
Yes, I even explained what kind of bomb I was going to do. I did the sketch, the chart is here. I was thinking about doing this. I hadn’t tested the scope it had yet. But more or less this kind of size, with the weight and size, all of it. Uh, over here was the initiator, over here, this was the basic part, I explained to them the triangle of combustion. Because they had hit me so much, they had given me so many beatings that I just told them everything, everything like that. I’m going to explain everything you want because they just beat me and beat me and beat me. I didn’t know what to do. They wanted me to blame people I didn’t know, say things I didn’t know, give them money that I didn’t have. They told me they were going to kill me, they detained me with someone else. The boyfriend I had at the time. And there was a moment when I stopped hearing him, he was screaming. And they told me they had killed him. And if I didn’t tell them or did not collaborate with them, the same thing was going to happen to me, they were going to… They were going to cut me into pieces and they were going to drown me in the river.And well, with that incentive, anyone says anything. They made me blame people who had nothing to do with me. They made me watch how they tortured them. Uh… I could live with what I was doing because I knew what I was doing, but for… them doing things to other people who had nothing to do with it, that… It created a lot of guilt in me and a lot, a lot of remorse, a lot.. It is not frustration anymore, it’s anger, it’s discomfort, it’s that I can’t stand it. I can’t stand that it’s been so many years and they’re still there like nothing. And that the political force that was helping us at the time was not supposed to do it, because that was the goal. That there was no need for any strength, but with democracy, the negotiations… And that kind of thing was going to get out. And I always insisted on them no, that it was with force. And it was the people of my own political party who gave me over. Because they were, uh… before that happened, they had told me to keep in my house, to shelter in my house two boys from the party. And they were at my house. My house was a laboratory. There was no need to imagine many things. It was they who turned me in.

The people you hosted, right? The people you welcomed.
My boyfriend, so they didn’t, so they didn’t torture them further, agreed to testify against me for money. And for three years I thought they had killed him. They released him and I found out that son of a bitch simply had done what anyone could do. I don’t blame him for, for… for that. But why didn’t he tell me? He denied it until the end. And that makes me not trust anyone. That I can’t relate to people. Excuse me.

No, it’s fine.
I practically can’t tell anyone what happened to me. There are many people in my country who still trust the opposition. Even though we are not reliable. And I don’t take away from them. People want to believe in anything, but if for 20 years you are seeing that the pattern is always losing, always losing, and suddenly, the people that were normal, quiet, and common, they’re in prison because it wasn’t just me to whom this happened. It’s happened to more people. It’s a pattern. So the opposition is not opposition, there is no such figure.

Two sides to the same coin.
b>And well, that kind of thing happen in my country. The people you believe you can trust are absolutely not reliable. Today they’re with you and tomorrow, ex, and what I am working with my psychologist is to stop thinking that every person is the same, and to give myself the opportunity to meet other people. To work on that…Not classifying people. And something I have to… yes… it’s a fixation that I brought with me, that I think everybody is a communist. But it’s because of what happened to me. Reading everything I have read so far, I had not even realized that in my country existed such an aberrant, carnivorous left. For me in Venezuela there was no politics, there was no clear movement on one side or the other. I didn’t see it that way until I left the country and didn’t see it. I didn’t see other types of politics, I didn’t see other types of countries, other types of government. I didn’t know how to compare what was happening there. And at the time I didn’t know it, but I did know that I had to fight it, against a whatever, against [it with] all my strength, with my life, if it were necessary. But I didn’t know exactly what that was. I just wanted freedom.

Have you gotten this freedom?
Another kind, of… I’m always going to be a slave of that loop.

You don’t leave it, right?
No, I can’t leave the history of my country just like that. It hurts too much. Not only because of what they did to me but because they keep doing it. And because… If more people had thought like me, it would be over or we would have destroyed the country, but it would be over. I don’t know how else to think- to analyze it. I don’t know if it sounds like I’m very warlike or something like that to you, but, I don’t know how else to fight people who get into your life, destroy you, keep communications completely at their mercy… Or it is like they say, or it’s not. You haven’t done anything yet, but I already have your prey and I already have all the evidence against you. And I convince all the people around you for money, for a couple of scraps to testify against you. I also have the country’s politics at my disposal so that if I have a different idea here, they give it to me. I don’t know how to fight something that is like that, that is an octopus that has a hand everywhere. And it seems that the rest of the world isn’t interesting, that they do not care about it. “Poor thing, what they need is food, let’s send them. You need medicine.” That does not cure anything, because it doesn’t even reach people who keep dying every day. The only way there is a rebellion. That people get rid of those people.

So, even though you left your country physically, you can’t leave it psychologically.
No. My heart is still there. It’s that, if I had the power and the scope, I would go myself, but I don’t have it and I will not expose myself again to…

This. No, you shouldn’t.
I’m not going to let those people touch a single hair of mine.

You shouldn’t do it.
Right here either, nor do anything about politics, nothing. When they try to talk to me, the current opposition leader came here in December, and because I was a political prisoner, they asked me to intervene and I said no. Because he doesn’t seem some I can trust. He is the living picture of the former president, who died. He is identical and has the same ideas.

Thank God.
He’s a socialist. He hugs the prosecutor who put us all in prison. I mean, it’s an association of things that are adding up, that you say “hey, it hasn’t been a month yet and all these things have happened already, imagine.” Plus, all the acts of corruption he has behind him. Well, I don’t want to choose the least bad. Or the one who steals the least.

You are very idealistic, aren’t you?
It’s just that they have hit so much, that I don’t want the crumbs, I want the best. And it’s been so hard for me to have everything that I have come to have again, that I’m not going to let go for anything [in the world] and I always want to go for the best option. And if at some point I’m going to return to my country, I’m not going to go back to support…the dumbest asshole they could come up with, I’m going to support the best. And if I am also going to intervene within my country’s activities, it will also be to improve them, not to work with what we have. Because it was something very shocking I did, that when I left my country working in the pharmaceutical sector… That even though we were working with fingernails, I thought we were using the most advanced technology. When I come here and go into a lab, I realized that not at all. The scales you pass your hands over here and the doors open.

There is another world, isn’t there?
Um, um, the software is three versions more advanced than those we had, the equipment, almost that “fiu” [huffs], and the samples come out [laughs]. They have probes that analyze at once and you simply collect data and interpret it, and you already have all the graphs and everything.

Well, and what do I do?
Before… Yes, before you prepared 10, 20 liters of phases to put them into the equipment, and now 800 milliliters and if you prepare one liter, “take care of the environment”. Everything is on the basis of savings and other parts. But solutions in form of improvement. I see it like they can improve that part a lot. They are very good with the documentation, something that would never have reached that level. We have amazing software here. I love the lab where I am right now. I’m their number one fan. And no, no, and, well they have many things that I would never have imagined and the one in Acalá de Henares, they too, but by the amount of volume, that was a monster of an industry. They had up to five laboratories, had an active substance plant in the corner, they had one in Italy, one in León, of hormones for women, female drugs, that are for menopause I think if I remember it correctly. And in this one, they had antidepressants, in this lab. It’s good that I didn’t consume them [laughs].

Because if not…
There were people who did. Because it is what happens to you when you work with medicine, you self-medicate. I saw it a lot working in the sector. People tend to self-medicate. No, it’s that you think you you’re a doctor. “Oh, but the matter is that this medicine serves for this thing and this thing and this thing. Well, but then I mix it with this other one I take this out… yes”.In my country, it was a lot, a lot like that. Here I haven’t seen it so much here. Here they are more stubborn. Here, they don’t even like that you take antibiotics and the only medicine that exists is Paracetamol.

Yeah, if you’re not dying, take Paracetamol.
And if I see that you are dying…

Well, then we’ll do something.
When you have red phlegm and you have been three days in bed and it looks like you’re not going to get up… Take an antibiotic.

But that’s good, my father-in-law is a doctor…
Ah, yes, they say it’s a wonder. But what happens is that…

No, for your immune system it’s good because it helps you.
Hey, yeah, but I see that here, they get a little cold and they get sick and they die and go. So I don’t see what is the immune system they are healing. But in my, yes, truly it was for… for everything you have “you are sneezing! take flu medicine!”, no, how was it? Antihistamine. Yes, they are anti-allergic… They were anti-allergic. You took Loratanide as if you were drinking water. That was my brother.

In my country, we also took a lot of antibiotics.
Oh, you got a little fever?

Yes, anti-flu and antibiotics as well. Sultamicillin was for everything.

This surprised me that it is not used here until you’re not dying. They don’t ever give you an appointment before.
Except for those for the skin, those for the skin, yes, they do, they give pre… prescriptions for skin antibiotics. But not for the rest. I had a mycosis. And yes I was like “wow, I have antibiotics!”.

Finally, I get to see it here!… so, can you tell me the month and the year you arrived in Spain?
Yes, on December 6th, 2017.

December 2017. And how old are you?

And that’s it.
And excuse me for…

No, no, not at all. Excuse me. I brought you here, and… I’m sorry.
No, the truth is that for these kinds of things I’m…

Many 1000 Dreams interviews were not conducted in English. Their translation has not always been performed by professional translators. Despite great efforts to ensure accuracy, there may be errors.