My name is Reina Mora. I live in Merida, Venezuela. I work as a Librarian in the Pharmacy Faculty of the Universidad de Los Andes. I have not visited my niece, Ivana, in the United States in more than 8 years. For me it is too expensive to apply for an American Tourist Visa.
My salary is Bs. 1,198,522 ($217) per month. According to the Venezuelan Government, one-dollar equal Bs. 2,200, but it is so difficult to find dollars that you have to change at the so-called "Black Market" for Bs. 5,500.
The inflation for us is very high and everything costs too much for us. For example, one kilogram of Powdered Milk cost Bs. 30,000 ($5), but the gas is very cheap at about $.70 cents per liter
I live with my parents, because I cannot afford to live by myself. My monthly expenses are: Bs. 65,000($12) for Utilities, Bs. 17,000($3) for water, Bs. 190,000 ($34) for phone bills, Bs. 84,000 ($15) for cable and Bs. 16,000 ($3) per container of gas (stove). My total expenses per month are Bs. 1,200,000 ($218). Life here is very expensive, and food is scarce and difficult to find, especially milk, eggs, cooking oil and flour.
To apply for an American Tourist Visa, I have to travel to Caracas and for an airline ticket, I have to pay Bs. 600,000 ($109) plus Bs. 500,000 ($90) for taxis and food. On top of that, the $150 - you can do the conversion in Bolivar’s- I need to pay to apply for a Tourist Visa. And I do not have any guarantee that I will even get it.
I like to live in my country. I think is difficult to live in United States. Here I have Health Insurance and all the benefits that I will not have there. I would like to visit my niece, but to apply for a Tourist Visa is too expensive and I think only rich people can apply for Tourist Visas. Last time that I went to the American Embassy in Caracas, they denied my applications because, for then, I was a ¨potential immigrant¨
Note: This interview was made on December 2007. Since January 1, 2008 in Venezuela they have a new Bolivar, the Strong Bolivar, and now $1 equals Bs. 2.50. Dollars are difficult to find, and in the¨Black Market¨ you will have to pay Bs. 5.50 per one dollar.