“De Arepa en Budare”: Luisa and those who still resist in Venezuela

“Never, ever, even with the terrible situation we’re living in now, I would leave my country. I am Venezuelan, as we say here, ‘de arepa en budare’*”. It is one of the first sentences that Luisa tells me while we have a coffee at 6 in the morning, amidst the tranquillity of La Gran Sabana.Continue reading ““De Arepa en Budare”: Luisa and those who still resist in Venezuela”

Venezuela: A spark of hope in the middle of chaos

My time in Venezuela was short. I arrived one day and left the next. And I feel that I needed more to absorb the atmosphere of the country that, yes, is sinking into a crisis. But in contrast, have people who don’t hold their heads down.  I didn’t have the chance to stop for theContinue reading “Venezuela: A spark of hope in the middle of chaos”

Suely: The sadness that won’t leave the Córrego do Feijão

“My facial expression has even changed, I don’t smile as I do here anymore,” says Suely while she shows me the cover of a 2014 tourism magazine she featured because of her restaurant at the “Córrego do Feijão”. Today, the Casa Velha restaurant is rented out to Vale and the wood-fired oven and the smellContinue reading “Suely: The sadness that won’t leave the Córrego do Feijão”

Brumadinho: the anguish of collective grief

Brumadinho is a sad city. It is possible to feel the grief in the streets, in each casual conversation with its inhabitants who do not forget the day when Vale’s Bean Stream dam collapsed, changing everything. It is possible to feel it in the brown dust that covers the city and in the muddy colourContinue reading “Brumadinho: the anguish of collective grief”

Alba and the Venezuelan resistance in Brazil

“When I left [Venezuela], I said, ‘I will be the resistance in Brazil because I will have a voice and I will tell the world who we are”. One of the pioneers of the first Boa Vista Welcoming Centre, Ms. Alba Marina is certainly a force of resistance in Brazilian lands – and still offersContinue reading “Alba and the Venezuelan resistance in Brazil”

Roraima: The Complexities of the Migratory Flow

Dona Raimunda has lived in Boa Vista since 1983 when she moved from Manaus. Like many Manauaras, she “came to visit and never went back”. Her recount is complex and rich described in a way that only Roraimans can deeply identify with. In an informal conversation at the city’s Crafts Center, at first she complainsContinue reading “Roraima: The Complexities of the Migratory Flow”

The open helping hand: Brazilian Army Mission

The initial encounter the immigrants face when crossing the border is the military. This indeed may be a source of fear and concern including some other parts of Brazil; but not in Pacaraima. In the border city between Brazil and Venezuela, the military extends it’s welcome and helping hand. The Operação Acolhida (Operation Welcome) wasContinue reading “The open helping hand: Brazilian Army Mission”

Miriam and the fight for the rekindle of dreams

“Leila, I have not taken a vacation in two years. I’ve been in the migration influx for two years”, is what Miriam shares with me as we talk at the historic wooden table of the Casa da Música (House of Music). Major decisions about the welcoming of immigrants in Pacaraima took place here: First meetingContinue reading “Miriam and the fight for the rekindle of dreams”

Milagros: the voice of the Waraós in Brazilian lands

Milagros has the sweet voice that only someone with that name (Miracle) could have. Her smile and the tranquillity in her eyes almost hides the pain and anguish as she tells me her story while watching the rehearsal of the Canarinhos da Amazonia Choir in which her daughter, Rosa Mística, sings. She narrates the lifeContinue reading “Milagros: the voice of the Waraós in Brazilian lands”

Pacaraima: when hope catches on fire

On the 18th of January, I got on a bus that took me from Boa Vista to Pacaraima. I didn’t know what to expect but felt compelled by the heart to go and understand how life worked on the Brazil-Venezuela border. Now, looking back, I understand exactly what brought me there. In a crazy way,Continue reading “Pacaraima: when hope catches on fire”