Venezuela, beyond the crisis
Venezuela, beyond the crisis
In recent weeks, the news from Venezuela speak of a country on the brink of chaos, immersed in a social conflict of dramatic proportions. The noisy voice of the street and the social networks have left in the background other intrinsic values that bring some hope in the medium term. Although international analysts agree that Venezuela urgently needs a shift in its economic policy to avoid collapse, there are indicators to be optimistic and that can offer other keys away from the general trend. To the known importance of Venezuela as one of the largest oil producers in the world (exports up to 2 million barrels of oil per day), it binds a strong presence of major multinational automakers. Recently some of them have renewed their commitment to the country, as well as the tourism agencies are confident on a full recovery of this sector once the current conflict has surpassed. The country is still attractive.
PanamericanWorld spoke with a group of Venezuelans who, above ideological positions, is deeply committed to their country. A representation of the ordinary citizens who work, believe and invest in their country. These are the five reasons why Venezuela is definitely a country full of opportunities.
Mother Nature has been more than gracious to Venezuela. Besides an almost perfect weather, the country has an impressive biodiversity and some of the most breathtaking scenery on the planet. Thus, its inhabitants, who have a characteristic ability to give the good face, find an easy escape to crisis and problems in ideal places such as the Caribbean coast.
"Our best-selling destination is Margarita, certainly is a favorite for Venezuelans. Following, although far, we have Los Roques and Merida," says Zobeida Alvarado, Integral Advisor for the travel agency Lusitana Tours. Although she has been in the tourism sector for a short time, assures that Venezuelans love to travel, against all odds: “The month of January was very good in selling tours, but then this trend went down due to the wave of protests. Now little a little the flow is returning to normal. The desire to travel is above everything." Alvarado indicates that foreign tourism comes mostly from Argentina, Spain and Colombia.
In this sense, Jose Gomez, tourism advisor for another agency, emphasizes that tourism in Venezuela is very profitable for outsiders due to current exchange regime in the country: “Venezuela is suitable because of being inexpensive due to the currency value. With few dollars it is possible to take more advantage of a trip in comparison to other destinations." However, he thinks that the beauty of Venezuela is, itself, enough to make easier the decision to travel. "Visitors can enjoy the benefits of summer weather all year. Another factor from the tourist point of view is the iconic landscapes as Canaima and the Orinoco Delta where you can get to know the aboriginal culture," he says.
Strict control of both foreign exchange and prices and a high level of inflation do not talk about a good scenario for investors. However, despite transnational giants like Ford, Toyota and Goodyear have been in serious trouble, many others have reiterated their confidence in the country. In fact, Chrysler Venezuela recently dispelled rumors of alleged closure. "Chrysler Venezuela, a company with over 55 years in the country, assembling and marketing the brands Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep and Mopar, remains firmly rooted in Venezuela , ensuring the maintenance of quality jobs for its 1,000 workers" the company said in a statement.
According to political risk analyst Nicholas Watson, accessed by Forbes magazine, many companies have learned to deal with government policies effectively. He notes that: "It’s also worth pointing out that Venezuela has been a profitable, and in some case high-margin, market for many companies." The fact that Venezuela is one of the largest oil producers in the world is also a consideration, as states the director of the research center Econometrica, Angel Garcia Banchs, quoted by BBC Mundo: "This allows companies to amass an income that is not from their strategy, it's not because of their efficiency or productivity, but there are a lot of monetary liquidity.”
Meanwhile, Venezuelans themselves not hesitate to invest in their own country. So explains Nunzia Auletta, from the Entrepreneurship Center of the Institute of Management Studies (IESA), who notes the high levels of entrepreneurship in Venezuela, despite the lack of support for SMEs. In this regard, Jose Gomez, tourism consultant, is optimistic: "From the point of view of investment our country is an important market for many national and multinational corporations. It is expected that the economic situation will improve with the measures initiated by the national government, which must be accompanied by other actions to get back on track as a competitive destination."
Others are more instinctive. The chef Felicia Santana, owner of a restaurant, says that opening her own business was a decision of love. "I love my country and I strive to give our gastronomy the place it deserves. It is what drives me."
From north to south and from east to west, Venezuela attests to its splendid history and idiosyncrasy. For example, the Dancing Devils of Yare, colorful religious festival celebrated on the day of Corpus Christi, is just one of the many traditional cultural expressions of the country and whose value transcends borders as it was declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by the UNESCO.
Venezuela also offers the option to relive history through architecture. Not surprisingly, the cruise company Pullmatur recognizes that tours to the historic center of Caracas are one of the most popular for visitors who stop in the port of La Guaira. In this sense, we consulted a history teacher, Lola Mendoza Rios, who confined much of the architectural style of the Venezuelan capital to two constitutional terms. “One is Antonio Guzman Blanco government, President for three terms (from 1870-1888). During this period the silver bolivar was created as national currency, the Gloria al Bravo Pueblo was officially declared as the national anthem, and the Venezuelan Academy of Language, the Municipal Theatre, the National Cemetery, the Chapel of Calvary - French Gothic style - and the Federation arch were built," she says.
"The other period that makes Venezuela an interesting place to visit is Isaias Medina Angarita government. During his term it was built what was regarded as the first middle-class community of Caracas, El Silencio, which still exists. This place was made up of dark streets full of brothels. Hence the name," concludes the experienced educator.
Although it doesn’t have enough international recognition, Venezuelan cuisine has the ability to conquer palates anywhere in the world, through friendly flavors and versatility. Fortunately, Venezuelan chefs have joined the trend to highlight and reinterpret traditional dishes from all regions, with a growing acceptance in foreign settings.
Venezuela’s cuisine is anything but monotonous. “The Venezuelan food is rich in ingredients; it has both protein and vegetables and fruits," says Chef Felicia Santana. And she adds, "When you elaborate a dish there are no limitations. We are a tropical country; we do not have seasons, so freshness is guaranteed. We eat all kinds of meat and we dare with different flavors, that variety is what makes us so special."
When asked Santana what Venezuela can offer to foreign palates, she did not hesitate to say that its rich, explosive and different flavors delight from the first taste. "The more accepted taste by humans is sweet and sweet is just a constant in our dishes. Also we have special ingredients such as sweet pepper that does not exist elsewhere and definitely gives a special touch to our food,” Santana notes.
Away from the city and the problems linked to it, the most extreme have here endless options to have truly unique experiences. The Venezuelan jungle is a place like no other in the world. Walk through the oldest mountains in the world, is a story worth telling and immortalizing. Wide rivers, a rich delta and the birth of the Andes are also some options that adventure lovers can find in Venezuela.
Akanan Travel & Adventure is an agency specialized in ecotourism that proposes year round tours to visit Venezuelan wonders. The increasingly strict exchange policies have generated a growing interest in locals for these destinations. "About six months ago we had an influx of foreign tourists much greater than Venezuelans, but due to the difficulties to travel abroad more and more domestic tourists are coming," says Manuel Patino, Sales Manager.
Trekking to Roraima is on the top of the most requested tours, followed by the package Canaima/Angel Falls. According to Patino, no special training is needed and there is no age limit to be adventurous, just generally having a good physical condition is necessary.
To Akanan, another favorite activity is climbing Venezuela Andean peaks, Humboldt and Bolivar, which can be done individually or in combination. “The Humboldt glacier tends to decrease due to climate change. It is estimated that in 10 years it could disappear," asseverates Patino.
Foreign tourists are particularly attracted to these adventure tours in Venezuela. For Akanan, the Japanese are the most enthusiastic of this kind of tourism.