About Refugees, By Refugees

Portrait of refugee Valentina against a green background


Pictures taken in:



Photo and interview by:




Belal Darder Mohamed

“My dream before coming to Spain was to graduate,” says Valentina (pseud, 22). “I started a degree in Fine Arts.” Her studies were cut short when she had to leave Venezuela due to the violence and deteriorating economic situation. She recalls “nights when the government would throw tear gas bombs into the building and we had to lock ourselves all in the bathroom or get out of the house and go to the staircase to shelter.” At first, alone in Madrid, where she has suffered discrimination, she would feel “the blow of sadness that you have been accumulating all this time.” Her sister has since joined her, but she misses her mother, whom she describes as her “parachute”. She says, “I have always been a person who has clear goals.” Those goals are “still to graduate” and “to set up a restaurant and thrive.” Her experiences have been “a descent, a very strong descent, and now I feel like I’m going upwards. I haven’t finished getting there, but I feel everything’s better.”

Trigger Warning: Murder, racism, violence

full interview

Perfect, well, Valentina, can you tell me where you live now? And who do you live with?
Okay, I live in Spain on [redacted] Street, and I live with my boyfriend.

And what do you normally do during your day?
Well… Well, I usually get ready to go to work. And when I don’t work, I try to do what I can’t do during the week, like buying some things, arrange the house a little, seeing my sister, and well…

And what do you do to feel happy? What are the things that make you happy?
It makes me happy the fact of talking to my mom when she has electricity and internet at the same time. Another thing that makes me happy is painting, I sometimes paint. I haven’t done it for a long time, but that makes me quite happy.

Sorry. What?
I paint

Oh! Painting?

Oh, that’s good.
Yes, but I haven’t done it for a while. And well, I try to appreciate my days off and relax and I try to disconnect. I like to do that on my days off. That keeps me happy.

Yeah, and what else?
Not mucho more.

Ummm… Do you travel? Do you relate with your…?
Yes, I do, I travel mostly during the holidays.
And I like it when I visit my friend Oriana in Valencia. She graduated with me and that… And yeah, I like to share with people I know from before. I find it a little difficult to maintain trustworthy relationships with new people. I mean, when I get to see the people with whom I had a reliable relationship, I love it.

Yeah, quite a bit, yes.

And… Can you… can you describe your life since you have arrived in Spain?
A roller coaster of both emotions and situations. I came to Spain at my father’s house in Seville, when I was 17 years old, the first time I came. It was a super-strong shock because I hadn’t lived with him for many years and the relationship was really awful. And I left here with a bad experience, but I did bond a lot with the family of his ex-wife, who at that time was his wife. I returned to Venezuela for almost a year. I studied plastic arts. Then, when I came back here, I went back to my father’s house, but then, with the surprise that his family was moving out in a month and I don’t get along with his family anymore either. Then, I had to move to Madrid, to a friend’s house, who is no longer my friend and then I felt very lonely. There were many, many months, where I felt lonely because I didn’t know anyone in Madrid. I didn’t feel well, I felt like I could not fail. I felt a lot of pressure, that I could not fail, because for me, to fail meant to return home to my parents’ house, to my father, in Seville, because I did not manage to support myself, to sustain myself in Madrid. I felt the pressure not to return to my father’s house and to look for a job that would help me send money to my mother in Venezuela because everything is very difficult there. So I felt a lot of pressure and, especially, a lot of loneliness. At that time I was also going through the situation of a long-distance relationship with my boyfriend, with whom I spent many years.

Was he in Venezuela?
He went to the United States a year before I returned here to Spain.
And then the relationship… First of all, we started the relationship being very young and very toxic, and we lasted many years like that…around seven and a half, almost eight years.

Uff… and how old are you to have had an 8-year relationship?
I was 14 when I started the relationship.

Yeah, pretty young
And then yeah, at that time there were as many things, and he was not characterized by being a person with “cojones” (balls). So at that moment, as a woman, I had the instinct that he had another relationship and I found out it was true. And it was very difficult for me to cope, not to return to Seville, to look… to make sure I had enough money to send to my mom, the fact that I felt lonely in Madrid and I had nobody to talk to or to let off steam. And… And the fact that I didn’t know how to handle that breakup of a long-distance relationship. So, it was like, I had to balance many things at once. But anyway. Then everything got better, honestly. Little by little, I was given more hours at work, which meant economic solvency, which reassured me, both, to stay here in Madrid and to send (money) to my mom.
Then I started to get along better with my coworkers, who I always got along well with, but I was just very closed and we never managed to make connections like friendship, only work relationships. I started to relate more with my coworkers, I made friends, I met Carlos, who also helped me a lot to get out of how I felt at that time. And then everything started to improve. I was making more money, I moved to a flat because the first room where I arrived was super small, it was as if it were from here to there, that is, only space for the bed and the closet. The lady who lived there wasn’t a bad person because she helped me to get the job where I am right now, but she did place a lot of restrictions, for example, in the kitchen I couldn’t talk on the phone, I could not make too much noise, I could not have any visitors… Everything was very meticulous. Then, of course, it was very little time that my mom had internet and electricity.

So, of course, I just wanted to take advantage of that time to talk to her. So, once she kicked me out of the kitchen because I was talking on the phone. Then, I moved to a larger room where I felt much better. The owner was very friendly. Then, after around a year or so, I managed to gather (enough money) to bring my sister and I brought her with me. I achieved what I wanted, which was to move to a flat with my boy, I did it, and now from now on I feel like everything is going uphill, yes
It was like on the roller coaster there was a…

A descent
A descent, a very strong descent, and now I feel like I’m going upwards. I haven’t finished getting there, but I feel everything’s better.

That it’s getting better. Yes, yes, I’m very glad. Um… Well, I was, I was going to say, I was going to ask you if you could tell me how you felt. But you already have, you said it very well. So my next question is, um… being far away from your family I imagine, because I know a lot of people from Latin America, and I think family is very important for the people of Latin America, so, how does this make you feel?
It makes me feel a little frustrated. I have days when I feel very bad about the situations that led me to be far away from my family and it’s like..why? You know? Like I berated a lot the fact that I have to be going through, um, let’s say “roncha”, like, to do work in another country, far away from my family, all separated, because it is not just me as a daughter, but my uncles, some cousins, they are all quite far away. And sometimes I feel frustrated about the government, other times I feel sad and I blame fate, like how you have to go through certain things to get to other things. And maybe I have to spend some time away from my family, to learn, to grow, to get out of there. But many times I feel frustrated and sad, to be honest. Yes. See, it is not… It is not always the case. Sometimes one with so much trouble of work, with this situation or the other, that if I move out or I don’t… One forgets about it, but for a second, when… because here in Madrid it forces you to lead a very accelerated lifestyle.
Here everything is very fast, everything is very violent. So, of course, you get used to it, you adapt to that rhythm.

And when you stop for a second, you get like the shock that you are far away (from home), that you don’t have your mom. Sometimes I get so tired from work, that I just want a hug, from my mom in particular. And of course, knowing that she is far away, that it is still long until she comes and everything. And suddenly it hits you. Like the blow of sadness that you have been accumulating all this time, it falls on you alone on that one day. You cry everything you have to cry, you breathe and return to the rhythm of life that Madrid forces you to have, which is super fast, until one week or a month from here you stop again, and you… It’s like all the emotions that you had been accumulating, like come back to you…

I imagine the lockdown has been a moment for you, a time of braking, hasn’t it?
More than braking, the lockdown was a moment of distress because, of course, the same thing happened to me, I didn’t get along with my father, but -what happens? The first time I came I was able to obtain my papers with ease, I obtained my residency for 5 years and I didn’t… I think that during this time I don’t remember anything traumatic about the documents, but with my sister, it wasn’t like that. She lived in Seville with my dad while waiting for the papers, that would take a lot longer. We had an argument. He (my father) made me choose between his ex-wife and him and I had felt more support and I feel more affection for his wife than for him. And well, we argued, nothing went well, he kicked my sister out of the house and I brought her with me. At that time I lived in a rented room, with this landlord that was very nice and I felt a lot of pressure economically. So for me, more than, like, giving myself the luxury of missing either my mom or whatever, I felt the pressure of how everything was going to be, what I was going to do… I couldn’t send (money) to my mom and I felt very unprotected. I felt that at that moment if something happened to me, I was not going to be able to push forward from any situation.
And, of course, when this whole situation had already happened, well I did… I did feel a bit bad because I would say, I… in these difficult moments is when you count on your family, and I don’t have anyone around. So it’s like the parts of the reality that you say “Shit! I don’t have anyone to… a family where, you know? to lean on”, because for better or worse, the family is always there. Side note, my father isn’t included here!

No, he… you can’t count on him.

I… I’m going to ask you a personal question, because, the fact of being away from my family brought me closer to my girlfriend, made our relationship stronger, because I had no one, so I was holding on to her, you know? So, did that happen to you?
Yes, that happened to me, even before… I felt that when I met Carlos I was going on a plunge. I was on it in full swing, going down on the carousel and that made me value him a lot because he has seen when I hit rock bottom and when I went up. And he still stayed. And right now they ask me about my family and I name my sister and him directly.
Yes, because I have felt a lot of support in everything, both emotionally, sentimentally… I mean, he has been like one of the pillars, I think, that has kept me from sinking when I wanted to give up and say “you know what? I can’t do this anymore, no, this is not for me, this is very complicated..” I have counted on him.

And… To come to a new country to start your life alone…This entails many difficulties, many challenges, right? What are the qualities that helped you to overcome these challenges and difficulties?
My goal. I had a very, very clear goal that I wanted to, first, show my father that I could do it alone, because he had a friend, that they made fun of me, they said that I was going to go back after a week, that I didn’t have the qualities or abilities to live alone, pay the bills and thrive. So, first of all, it was not to give him the pleasure of saying that.
Secondly, it was to bring my family back together. And so I always had my goals very, very clear, like, that is what I want. That kept me going every time something difficult happened to me. And I think also the fact of looking at the glass, not as if it is half empty, but as it is half full. Sometimes I tried to look on the bright side of things, even though it was hard… and I feel that being positive helped me a lot to not give up.

That’s good. And let’s see… Um, have you imagined yourself staying in Spain? I mean, was the decision to come to Spain a planned decision? Was it a decision you have been thinking about for a long time? Or was it something, for example, Carlos has told me that the decision to come to Spain was presented to him as an opportunity and said “Well, I’m going”, right? Was it something like that for you or was it a more planned decision?
The first time, it was very planned because um, I came right after I finished my studies, high school, middle school, for example, and I was very, very focused on what I wanted to do, how I was going to go, what I was going to study, and nothing came out as I had planned. I could not study, it was very difficult for me. I did not manage to pass my final school exams. And well, the second time that I returned, it was my father’s ex-wife (who helped me) with the transportation costs and she suddenly said to me “Look, I got some extra money and I know that you’re having a hard time in Venezuela. Why don’t you consider coming back? You live with me, we help each other and here you get a job, you can study…” And in a matter of a month, roughly, I got things ready and came.
The second time was not so planned. It was all of a sudden, she called me “why don’t you come back?” And well, let’s give it a month. I got everything ready and managed to come.

Hm. And let’s see, let’s see… And you told me that your quality was to be able to see your goal and your goal was very clear to you, wasn’t it?

And do you think that the fact of being here in Spain alone, I don’t know, forced this quality on you? No? Or was this quality created when you came to Spain? I mean, did you also have those goals very clear before or is it something you developed from being here in Spain?
I have always been a person who has clear goals, but sometimes on the road, I gave up a little. But knowing that here I didn’t have… I felt like my mom was like a parachute, that no matter how much I threw myself into the void, I was going to have her stop me. And well, sometimes when I didn’t have very clear targets or I wasn’t sure, well I jumped. And my mom, like a parachute, stopped me. But the fact that I felt here without a parachute, made me feel like I had to meet the goal, whether I wanted to or not, there was no other way around. So I think that I… I had that quality and here, what I did, was to reinforce it.

And can you tell me…You have to tell me this sentence, okay? So I can quote you. I think that you have already said this, but can you say, “My dream before I came to Spain was…” and “My dream, now is…”
My dream before coming to Spain was to graduate from… I wanted to…well, I started a degree in Fine Arts and my dream now in Spain is… to set up a business and thrive.

A restaurant with Carlos?
A restaurant with Carlos.

Oh, that’s good, that’s good. But you have studied plastic arts in Venezuela…
In Venezuela.

But you didn’t finish your studies there?
No, no, no, because I was barely on the first semester when I already had to come and I didn’t finish it.

But with the residency I think that you can enter the education system, right? If you have a 5-year residency, you can enter the education system.
Yes, Yes, I meet the requirements for college, but now the time and money factors come into play.

Yes, yes, of course.
Then, of course, I… my dream is still to graduate.

Right now, actually, right now from any career, to be honest, but I’ve always wanted to be a professional and it is something that, I feel like the restaurant and a business of my own is like the conduit that can take me to my final goal.

Yes, of course.
That is to be able to graduate from plastic arts or something else.

Something else. But you like art? Right?
Yes, yes.

Lately, I’ve slowed it down a little, but yes, I really like it. I’m a better painter than a drawer.

I’m better at painting, yeah, but.

How do you paint? with a brush or…
In watercolor, oil, acrylic, in almost everything.

Do you have some paintings that you can show me later?
Yes, I have some, I have them, I left them at my sister’s house. But I do have, I have… some paintings that he gave me that come in an easel. I had a few, a collection that I think that’s also what I miss the most, of Van Gogh.

Van Gogh?
One, one with an easel and some paints from the Van Gogh brand, which I left in Venezuela.

I have here…
Did you do this?

It’s from Monet.
Oh my God

It isn’t the original, of course.
But still!

If it were original, I wouldn’t live here…
And you wouldn’t have the painting.

But it’s Monet’s.
Oh, that’s nice.

Yes, yes, I love Monet. I love impressionists in general, but Monet above all.
(You should bring your paintings and show them to him. )

Yes, Yes! You have to show me some of your paintings, please.
Yes, yes…

And did COVID affect you? Did it affect your life?
Yes, because it stopped like every plan, so I organized everything chronologically and very meticulously.

This year I’m going to do this…
This year… yes, and I had like all the time, very just for everything to happen when I wanted it to. And yes, that was a goal on hold in life completely.

Yes, yes, yes, it affected everyone’s plans, I imagine.
Yes. And, and of course, now, that put me… my… my goal is still the same, but now I see it a little farther away. All the… I mean all the time that we spent locked up and all that stuff, I feel like it is the same time that kept me from, from being close to my mom, being able to bring her to me, and all that.

And… um… I think the situation in Venezuela is very clear for everyone, but even if it is clear for everyone, it affects everybody in a different way. So, how did the situation in Venezuela affect you?
First of all, let’s see… My family was middle class.

Okay? And… I remember that the first time that I felt, like, the change, was one time, that my grandmother…we were in a supermarket and when we paid she says: “last week with the same amount of money we brought twice as many bags”. And, because they always took me and my sister to help them with the bags. Then I remember that’s when everything changed, and everything started little by little.

When the inflation started, and all of that.
Yes, and this was all like an avalanche. My life changed a lot because… Of course, I had to find myself a job, and I, and I had to carry the job and and college. It was a rather difficult time. Then, everything was very expensive or not available at all. I even had a hard time buying the materials in college, the portfolio, because it wasn’t available or it was very expensive. And we began to limit ourselves in many aspects, I mean, we never had a luxurious life, but we never lacked anything.
So, of course, when the country began to paralyze and things couldn’t be found, or they were very expensive, everything… stopped, so of course, we started to see, to prioritize things. And at first, of course… you… you kind of understand, but you don’t understand, you know? And it’s complicated, really. I felt like… like weird about the fact that, either I buy myself some brushes or buy something for dinner tonight, you know? So you have to, like, start to see what is for your priority and of first necessity or something else.

Of course, life is… is impossible in Venezuela now, isn’t it?
Yes, the truth is, it is quite impossible. Still, in my house stayed my grandfather, my mom, and our dog. And, well, my mom is a pharmacist and she.. well, between what she manages to earn, which is very little, my grandfather with his pension and with what I send them, well they have, they have been kept quite well because they are only two people. But now it isn’t only about the food, now it is about the gasoline, that my mom has had to sometimes walk from the house to work…

Because there isn’t…
Because there is no gasoline. And I remember that when the protests began in my country, the buses were paralyzed, and that whole thing… And I remember the fact of having to walk to work too, which was about… 20 minutes walking. It wasn’t that far, but it was dangerous because you could either be robbed or the cops could take you. So…

How does it make you feel? How does the situation in your country make you feel? I feel sorry, for example, for the situation in my country.
Ufff, it makes me feel… For a moment, it makes me feel like I’m 50 years old instead of 22 for everything I’ve lived and for everything that I’ve seen and the number of horrific things. Honestly, because the things that were happening resembled a horror film.

Have you grown old?
Yes, yes. I feel like I am way ahead of my age. I’ve seen how they killed teenagers, come on, fighting for the freedom of a country in cold blood. In front of my face, practically… I lived on the sixth floor and in front of my, of my building, there was the University of Law and over there, there were always a lot of protests, and we called the boys who were protesting “guarimbero”.

Guarimberos. Like protesters.
Yes, just like protesters, right, but a little more, Creole.
(A little more Venezuelan.)
And so…they were, they were very young 16,18, yes, and they were giving their life for everyone’s freedom and the fact of not being able to, not being able to help them… I mean, that I throw a stone and I can make a scratch on you, but well, it was a little frustrating the fact that…and I worried a lot about the mothers of those creatures, that oh my god! What a horror that they killed your son, for freeing a country, you know? And the nights when the government would throw tear gas bombs into the building and we had to lock ourselves all in the bathroom or get out of the house and go to the staircase to shelter… to feel how, how they were shooting at the buildings and the windows were exploding, then all of that… Yes, yes, I felt like I got quite old. To see how your life was worth a cellphone, for example.

Because they can kill you to steal it.
Once I was at the window of my house and I just turned around when I heard -my mom was watching, she stayed, she stayed watching from the window- when I heard a gunshot and people were running, running, and suddenly, when the noise died down, we saw a man lying on the floor with a bag of bread. Apparently, they wanted to rob him. The man went to buy bread, they wanted to rob him, he didn’t let them, they shot him and he was gone. And the day after that I had to go to school and go back to my house.

And keeping the psychological balance during all this, is it a feat, isn’t it?
The bus that left me at school was right at the stop where the man had been shot and the next day I had to see the man’s blood there who didn’t want to get robbed, his family… It’s just that it’s pretty rough.

It’s shocking.
Yes, yes, it is very, very shocking…
Um… they arrested a friend and tortured her, cut her hair, didn’t give her any food… um… with all this thing with the protests, she wasn’t even protesting, she was already going home and they grabbed her, and it was that you are in a bad position, they grab you and take you with them.

It is just a coincidence you were there…
Yes, you were there, they take you with them, even if you have nothing to do with it, they take you because they have to, like, make people scared and the one who is in the wrong place at the wrong time… well, they take them. And it was so scary that you didn’t know, if you were going out, and they could take you and everything they could do to you… I don’t know if they raped you, I mean so many women, to torture them they cut their hair, I mean I saw that so, so horrifying, honestly, that it gave you panic for a moment, but the panic lasted very little because then you would go out to the street and for a second everything seemed normal…

Can you imagine going back to Venezuela someday?
Maybe if I return, it would be visiting to see my great-grandparents. There are many relatives, that I do know that if it is not me going, I will never see them again. But living in Venezuela, no.

Your life is already, is already here.
I plan myself, short, long term, living here, making my family here, working, setting something up, but I no longer visualize myself living in Venezuela.

Only visiting at some point, when the situation improves, right?
Yes, yes. When the situation improves. And it is much more expensive to visit than to go to any other country.

Yes, yes, of course. That’s something else. That’s something else… I always… I would like to go visit Uruguay, for example, Chile or some Latin American country, but I always look at the ticket, you know?, at the price of the ticket and I say “well I’m going to Italy because it costs me 20 euros or I go to Portugal, which costs me a bus ticket”, you know?
For example, to go to Venezuela, like 1700 dollars.

More or less equivalent to 1800 euros or something like that…

Go to France, go to Portugal, go to any country.
I went to Paris and I spent no more than 500 euros.

Yeah, yeah. Exactly.
Between the ticket, lodging… And I went out, and walked and didn’t deprive myself o anything… I mean…

Yes, yes, yes.
And you say… How?!

That is very difficult, it’s very difficult. But for me, as I said, I would like to visit some of these countries, I would like to take advantage that I now speak Spanish, right? But I can’t, because it is, it’s very expensive!
Going to visit Venezuela, I could go visit two countries here

Exactly. Even more, if you plan well. Yes, yes.
Yes, yes.

Yes, okay. Let´s see. Okay, and with all the difficulties you’ve been through, right? Do you see something positive?
Yes, that…

Do you see something positive in your experience?
Everything I’ve been through, as for Venezuela, living alone, I feel that has made me the person I am now. And I look at myself in the mirror and I feel proud of who I am. The truth is that I feel that I would not change anything, neither the difficulties, nor the mistakes, nor anything that I have gone through because they have turned me into who I am. And the truth is that I feel pretty good.

Then… even though the experience was very hard, wasn’t it?

Would you rate this experience as a positive experience?
Yes, because they helped me build character, to think, to have a little malice because I used to think that nobody wanted to do you wrong and that those were weird things, you know? But now I realized that no, that there are actually bad people in this world and that you have to take care of yourself and that you have to plan. And then, of course, everything I’ve been through has made me aware of so many things, of what I want to do, of how I don’t want to be, of what I want to achieve, of what… You know? Like all the good things that I have to do, to be who I want to be.

What would be the most difficult thing about being in a new country?… For me, it was the language, but it was…
For me, it was to adapt to the culture, because Latin America and Europe don’t have the same culture anywhere, so adapting and knowing what, how you have to do things, that here the rules are met, for example.

Rules are not guidelines, are they?
Yes, yes, that of culture.

Can you give me an example of small things? No, I imagine that… they pres…
The first time I went to a cafeteria, I ordered myself a coke and I asked for a “pitillo” (a straw, which in some countries means joint or blunt) and the guy goes like…What?!!

A “pitillo” is…? Ah!
For me, straw is a “pitillo”. And the people at the counter were scandalized, “but, but how old are you?!” And I, look I, I didn’t understand why they were so shocked, and I saw them (the straws) and pointed at them.

Because a “pitillo” is…
Yes, a straw is a straw, and of course, those kinds of words, for example, for me “coche” is “carro”, for driving, “autmóvil” (a vehicle)

Or from what I have learned in Spanish, “carro” is like a horse, right?
(Yes, yes, that too, yes. For example, when you shop at the market, that’s also…)

That’s a “carro” too (shopping cart)
Yes. And for example, “coche”. For me, it’s also a stroller. So that is also a little difficult for me.

But this… this is the language?
Yes, yes, it’s totally the language, and well…

A Venezuelan girl told me that when she went to a café for the first time, she asked for a “café tetero”, and a “café tetero” for her, I don’t know if for you too, it’s like, with a lot of milk.

Yes, exactly, what is said here is “manchado” (stained).
It’s “manchado”

Yes, and she… they looked at her like, like, what do you want?
Yes, Yes! I mean, as much as… I mean we speak Spanish, yes, but not the same Spanish.

Yes, it’s not the same Spanish. Then you have to…I don’t know… to adapt your Spanish or a bit like… to synchronize, yes, to synchronize your Spanish to the Spanish that is spoken here.
That is spoken here…

And is there something else…that, that seemed different to you?
No, the truth… the truth is that, specifically, because the other things like, to the good things one gets use to easily. And so I felt so many advantages here that it was easy for me to adapt to the rest.

Yes? Do you feel that life here is more advantageous? More…
Yes, much easier.

Much easier… In what sense?
As for everything, in terms of being able to buy things, even, even to catch the bus. I sometimes, I had to, I went to the bus stop at my house and it was, I could spend 15 minutes or two hours.

Waiting for the bus to arrive. And here everything, here with an app being from the comfort of your home… Well, look, “ah, it arrives in 5 minutes, I know I have to leave.” That for me was, I mean, the best. What a thing, what a blessing to have an app that tells you when the bus arrives!

Yes! For me, the subway was a blessing, for example.
That too.

It is extensive, large, I can go anywhere, and… back then I was 22 years old, it cost me 20 euros, so…
For example. It was really hard for me to learn how to use the subway, really. I got lost 500 thousand times. I didn’t understand it, I didn’t comprehend it. I said this is a lot of technology for me. I didn’t know how to use the subway. No, no, I had a really hard time. I think that even when I knew it, I still got lost, I passed the stations or confused them. I… we would agree to meet in Méndez Pelayo and I would go to Méndez Álvaro. Yes, it’s, I have a little problem that I confuse the words and I read what I want, basically. I mean, there it says something, and I read something completely different. And well, it happened to me a lot with the stops, especially with Méndez Álvarez and Méndez Pelayo. The names are so similar that I got confused and I always went to the wrong one.

Yes, well, that happens… Sometimes, I read on the subway and I miss the stop. This happened to me a couple of times that I’m reading, and “shit… I just missed the stop.”
I got lost so much that I didn’t…I admired the people who were on the subway listening to music.

I was like this, with the map…

Where am I?
Counting the stops and making sure not to get lost, because I got lost so much that I was already scared of it.

Yes, I was always like this, super attentive and “okay, three more stops to go, I am here…” I used to have a bad time. It doesn’t happen to me anymore, but yeah…

Um… Have, have you witnessed any incidence of racism here?
Yes, and on behalf of Latinos.

On behalf of Latinos?! What?
Once a Peruvian called me “Veneca”. “Veneca”. It’s like a… they use it to discriminate Venezuelans who go to Colombia, for what I understand.
(It’s something like Moroccans, for example.)

(They don’t like being called Moro. And well in Venezuela it’s “Veneco”.)

It’s like what… it’s like, if it were used like the word itself, then you say, “well it is normal.” But they usually say it as a form of racism. And the second time was from a Colombian.

Aha… oh, I haven’t heard this before.
Yes, yes.

There is racism among…
Among Latinos, yes.

The Nations of…
Yes, yes, yes, yes. Um… I (he) was looking at it, like something to stick on the wall, for a birthday, and then he asked me if it already had sticky tape incorporated. I said no, I tell him, “but look, it’s okay, you put a little bit of sticky tape on each top if you want and it will hold” He tells me, “do you think I’m going to stick this to my chalet?” And he told me the amount… I can’t even remember, “…a tape on the walls”. But like this, in a super derogatory way, and I was just giving him a suggestion so he could tape it. And I say, well, clarifying that bothers me a little, and I tell him “it was a suggestion and you can do what you want”. And he was offended and started telling me that I couldn’t go outside my country to talk to others, to other people like that, so if I had that attitude it would be best if I went back to my country, and a few meaningless things… And I was telling him, but why this man, I’m noticing the Colombian accent even if he wants to disguise it with the “zeds” which he misplaces, why do you want to say that to me? And… and well, the times when, yes, when… I have felt racism even among other Venezuelan people. When they go to the store and they hear my accent.
They treat me contemptuously when they treat other Spanish colleagues differently.

But… I just don’t understand it.
Me neither.

I don’t understand this.
(There is a lot of racism in the world.)

Yes, but between, I don’t know, between Venezuelans? Why? Why do you treat a person like…
(I think more than what is among Venezuelans -sorry for jumping into the interview- it’s, more than racism, it’s classism.)
( I think… I think it’s more classism than racism among Venezuelans.)
Yes, for example, um… And I don’t know why I clarify, there are people who are super nice and they want, while you serve them, to ask you how you got here, about your life, and I don’t know… and there are other people who treat you very badly, very, very badly and I don’t understand why. If… I don’t know if it is that they feel superior to others. But the truth is I never understand it.

What does this make you feel?
It makes me feel like they are ridiculous, honestly, I feel very good about myself. The truth is, I say these people are… they are missing the point completely! That is also another, another very Creole saying, which is like, they are pointing the wrong way.

Missing the point..?
Missing the point completely. I am too Creole and very Barquisimetana. And in my, in my city, we are a lot about sayings, and well, so… that’s my favorite saying for that kind of people, yes, that they are not pointing where it needs to be because I don’t care about it, really.

Perfect… Well, this is it, you see that it is very simple, the interview, really.

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.