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Monday, March 24, 2014

Venezuela's Jews adopting Plan B

With nightly riots (of which you read practically nothing in the media) going on around them, Venezuela's Jews are contemplating leaving.
With Venezuela now roiled by anti-government demonstrations-the death toll reached 18 last Saturday-Venezuelan Jews who remain have yet another reason to leave their country: growing despair.
"There's less hope about the future," said Andres Beker, a Venezuelan Jewish expatriate in the United States whose parents still live in Caracas. "My parents are huge fans of Venezuela. Until last year I thought they would stay no matter what. Now, for the first time, they're talking about Plan B: leaving Venezuela."
Over the last 15 years, from the time Chavez came to power and in the year since Nicolas Maduro has ruled the country, the Venezuelan Jewish community has shrunk by more than half. It is now estimated at about 7,000, down from a high of 25,000 in the 1990s. Many of those who left were community leaders.
It's not just Venezuelan Jews who are leaving. Hundreds of thousands of middle- and upper-class Venezuelans have relocated in recent years, swelling the size of expat communities in places like Miami, Panama, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Colombia.
The exodus of Venezuelan Jews has put a great strain on the community's institutions.
"Emigration has really played a big factor in the community-that's our main problem," said Sammy Eppel, a Caracas journalist and Jewish community member who also serves as director of the B'nai Brith Human Rights Commission in Venezuela.
"When we were a numerous and prosperous community, we built numerous and heavy institutions," Eppel said. "A lot of our members have left, and we are left with the same institutions but with less people to take care of them. We have to make serious adjustments while making sure the services we provide to the community don't suffer."
There's a Venezuelan Jewish community that's been building in one of the neighborhoods in Jerusalem. One has to wonder why there are not more. 

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