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Venezuelan Wealthy Move to Panama to Maintain their Lifestyles

03/29/2018 - 10h59

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ANNA VIRGINIA BALLOUSSIER
FROM PANAMA CITY

People with means, like Psychologist Ada Suárez Reques, who has lived in Panama since 2017, are part of a contingent of 70 thousand Venezuelans in the country, many having fled from the crisis provoked by Nicolás Maduro's dictatorship.

Many wealthy, shaken by the Chávez-Maduro period, seek refuge in Panama City, a tax-haven only two hours from Caracas, which shares the same official language.

In Venezuela, the lack of food and drop in purchasing power have resulted in 64% of the population losing, on average 11.4 kilos of body weight last year, according to the National Living Conditions Research which surveyed 6,168 families from the country of 30 million inhabitants.

In Panama, however, there is no limit to toasts for enjoying the afternoon crowned with a shower of French Pascao Ponson champagne for the winners of the Polo match, who climbed the podium after winning the contest for the best look of the day, wearing the sombrero.

It isn't the lack of food, but of security, ever since the time of Hugo Chávez (1954-2013) which has pushed the Venezuelan elite to a life outside of the country. This is the case for Ada, who tells the Folha about the fear that he felt when he walked in the streets before leaving his country.

According to the Venezuelan Violence Observatory, 2017 was a year of unrelenting "homicides, thefts, extortions and kidnappings", a criminal escalation inseparable from the poverty that nine out of ten out the Psychologist's countrymen are living in.

Fernando Vergara - 12.dez.2017/Associated Press
Many wealthy, shaken by the Chávez-Maduro period, seek refuge in Panama City
Many wealthy, shaken by the Chávez-Maduro period, seek refuge in Panama City

POSITIVE THINKING

But the "corporate and personal aide" (another title that the Psychologist has adopted for himself) prefers to talk about good things. "I came here to expand my program, which includes messages of enthusiasm and motivation".

Positive thinking is also the "spiritual whey" of Santiago Fernández, 50 a former financial markets operator who re-invented himself as a "life-coach" after a decade of "incarnating the Wolf of Wall Street".

Without entering into details, he says that he was the victim of four different "lightning" kidnappings in his native country, which is going through a "horrible, awful wave of negativity". One day he decided that "enough was enough". So, he left Venezuela and has no immediate plans to return. But he remains optimistic about the country, citing the example of South African which overthrew apartheid.

Translated by LLOYD HARDER

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