In 2011 the population was almost 25,000 people, as estimated that year by the Census. There is no updated figure, so it is difficult to calculate exactly how many people have migrated from this town in Venezuela.
Text: VOA | Kicole Kolster
With empty houses and depopulated streets, where at times the noise of a motorcycle surprises, MontalbanVenezuela, is supported by remittances, after “half of the people” migrated, according to local authorities.
The country’s economic crisis, the constant failures of public services and a plague that wiped out prosperous citrus plantations, contributed to the migration of thousands in this agricultural town, which is located in the state of Carabobo, in the center of the country.
In addition, there was the lack of public transportation, which affects a large part of Venezuela, which prevented locals from working in neighboring cities, as an alternative to unemployment in the area.
The town has been left “totally empty (…) houses, villas, apartments alone, abandoned, with all the corotos (household goods) on top,” he tells the voice of america Josefina Corrales, councilor of the town, who walks through the iconic Plaza de Bolívar showing the solitude of the surroundings.
“There are more empty houses than people in the town,” agrees Antonio Coromoto, 72, a chronicler from Montalbán, who has spent most of his life in this town founded by Spaniards.
The councilor points out… «That was a famous ice cream parlor owned by some Italians, well, it never opened again (…), that was a coffee shop» that is closed. “You can see that everything is closed, all those businesses have gone bankrupt,” she laments.
In 2011 the population was almost 25,000 people, as estimated that year by the National Census. There is no updated figure, so it is difficult to calculate exactly how many people have migrated from this town in Venezuela.
However, the councilwoman is blunt: “Half the town is empty,” she repeats over and over again.
He also feels it at home… his family is gone, including his 30-year-old son, who emigrated to Spain three years ago.
The United Nations refugee agency, Acnur, estimates that more than six million Venezuelans have left their country, mired in a deep economic and political crisis.
Migrants hold the town
On one of those lonely streets is that of Carmen Pinto, 77, who lives with her husband. In the living room there are photos of her children and grandchildren, a memory of a large family, which today is in Chile.
“They went looking for improvement because nothing is achieved here, and if it is achieved it is unattainable, there is nothing to buy it with,” says this woman, while holding one of the portraits.
“Thanks to them we survive,” adds Carmen, before making a video call with one of her granddaughters.
In fact, the councilor assures that “the town is sustained by the emigrants.” “The money that enters the municipality is the money of foreigners, of those who have left,” she insists.
And he explains that “people who have emigrated from the Montalbán municipality say, and it is true, that from the outside they can be like an oxygen pump for the family.”
This is his case, because he was able to buy a house and a motorcycle thanks to the money that his son sent from Spain.
According to data from the firm Ecoanalítica, money transfers that arrive in Venezuela from abroad represent 6% of GDP, and may increase 25% this year, going from 2,000 million dollars to 2,500 million.
The consulting firm Anova Policy Research projected that 2.1 million households in Venezuela receive remittances, which corresponds to 24.3% of the country.
In a study published on its website, the agency detailed that the average monthly amount that Venezuelans received in remittances in 2021 was 65.8 dollars.