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Venezuelans Are Trying To Crowdfund Money To Leave The Country

Dozens of accounts have been set up in recent months by Venezuelans on the crowdfunding platform Generosity.

Posted on April 26, 2017, at 12:04 p.m. ET

Thousands of people in Venezuela have taken to the streets in protest as opposition groups stage nationwide demonstrations demanding early elections.

George Castellanos / AFP / Getty Images

The protests are part of a larger movement that has been growing in Venezuela over the past few weeks. Years of rising oil prices, inflation, and political unrest have thrown Venezuela into turmoil. People face a daily struggle to obtain basic items like food and medicine, and these shortages have created a hugely expensive black market in the country.

Things have gotten so bad now that Venezuelans are turning to crowdfunding platforms to raise enough money so they can leave the country.

BuzzFeed News spoke to three people in Venezuela who said they are hoping to raise enough donations from around the world to leave.

Definitely, Venezuela is the tale of the never ending pit of suffering and repression....

Andrea Gutierrez, a 24-year-old from Maracaibo, told BuzzFeed News in an email that she lost her job because of the worsening economic situation — and is now trying to crowdsource her way to Ecuador.

Gutierrez said she knows others who have been forced to busk to make money. She said she began researching ways to get international help and found the Generosity website.

Generosity is an offshoot of Indiegogo, founded in 2015, which allows people to raise money for themselves, their families, or charitable causes. Unlike Indiegogo, it is free to use, so people get all the money given to them. (BuzzFeed News has reached out to Generosity for comment.)

"I'm glad I did because saving money in Venezuela's current status is just impossible," she said, "and I do really want to get a second chance so I can live, work hard for my goals in music and art, and also get to help my parents, who are elderly and in delicate health condition."

Gutierrez told BuzzFeed News she's "always had the dream of traveling overseas for a better capacity of music and arts" but that the worsening situation in Venezuela has held her back until now.

"My desire to travel then changed to a darker level of worrying and despair. My professional experience has been teaching music in schools for almost 4 years," she said. "At the moment I'm unemployed — since January — because the school I was working at couldn't afford to pay for my services anymore."

Even when Gutierrez was a teacher, she said her salary of less than a dollar a day — lower than the country's minimum wage — was not enough to protect her from the rising cost of living. On top of this, the country's growing problem with crime has made her life there unbearable.

Gutierrez has so far received $70 in donations, mostly from strangers. She said she is grateful for anything she receives.

"I'm positive that if enough people read the reality of our situation, [they] will help me by donating and sharing my story to get my second chance in life," she said.

But Gutierrez unfortunately isn't the only one desperately trying to raise funds to leave Venezuela.

In Venezuela, a basic salary right now is about $15 per month. An average Venezuelan would have to save up (without eating or spending anything) for almost two years to cover the cost of a passport, visa, and a plane ticket.

For some, crowdfunding has already helped.

Ilias Papanikolaou started a page for his friend Giannis Kouzinos so Kouzinos and his family could leave Venezuela for Greece.

The page has raised nearly $10,000 so far, and the family are in the process renewing their passports so they can leave Venezuela.

"My gratitude to the man who organized the fundraising and my gratitude to all the friends and strangers who made it true with their contribution," Kouzinos told BuzzFeed News.

For others it's more of a struggle. Eligreg López, a writer from Ciudad Ojeda, Venezuela, started crowdfunding when she was pregnant because she wanted to make sure her baby got the best care possible.

Estoy pelando, trabajaba por internet y se me quemó la laptop, se me acabó la comida y peligra la leche de Elías. G…

"I’m dying, I work on the internet and my computer broke, I run out of food and Elias’s milk is jeopardized. Thanks a lot," she wrote in a tweet with her PayPal information.

López's son is now 13 months old and López and her husband are hoping to raise enough money to leave Venezuela.

"We want to raise our family in a peaceful environment and let our parents live their elder years in the quiet they deserve," she said. "We know that working online is our way out of the Venezuelan chaos. We know this country won't be fixed from night to day."

"We want a better future for us than the one we see here in Venezuela," López said.

López said she and her husband are offering pieces of written work in exchange for funding. They hope that with enough support, they can raise the money they'd need to get out of Venezuela.

"I wouldn't be making this campaign if it wasn't absolutely necessary," she said.

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.