Dan⁠i⁠el Chang-Con⁠t⁠reras

January 30, 2024

January 30, 2024

“When my family bought their apartment in 2014 in Venezuela, it cost them a million Bolivares. Last time I went home, in 2018, a bottle of Pepsi was a million Bolivares. There are no opportunities there for a prosperous future, which is very different from the country my family knew.

My dad’s side of the family escaped from China during the Second World War. They came to Venezuela with little to no money, and they built a life in Maracay.

My mom’s family moved from the countryside to the cities, as many Venezuelans once did, working up through the middle class, and then on from there. 

My mom would tell me about this wonderful place where you could dream, where you’d never even think about moving out of the country.

But now it’s a different story. Those days are like a bedtime story, “Once upon a time…”

And yet, I love my country. I am profoundly proud of where I grew up. Venezuela, for me, and for many people, is not Maduro and it’s not the armed forces. Venezuela is her people, the ones who daily risk so much to give their families a good life. 

You’ve got to differentiate between the country and its government. 

I am truly proud of the Venezuelan.

And people should be proud of being an American.

You have the added benefit that the United States has added so much value and done some pretty important things on the world stage.

You defeated the Nazis. You put a man on the moon.

Yes, there was Jim Crow. There were also the folks opposed to Jim Crow.

There’s a lot we can discuss, and you don’t ignore those parts.

It’s important to understand your own challenges and your own limitations but also understand and appreciate what you overcame. That applies to every part of life. 

I always say that this is the real soul of the American project and the American nation. As somebody not from here, I am extremely grateful and a defender of the things I’ve seen here. I wish more people were proud of where they’re from, because it’s they’re country. It’s part of who they are.

And even with the not so great parts? Well, you find a way to separate it from the really good stuff.”

Daniel Chang-Contreras
Washington, D.C.

Daniel fled to America from Venezuela on a student visa. He currently serves as Director of International Analysis at Politiks, a Venezuelan digital media outlet that counters the Maduro regime narrative.