Those who stay can only think about leaving. Those who leave can only dream of returning.
Venezuela is currently going through a severe humanitarian crisis that has led to millions of citizens fleeing the country. The Venezuelan diaspora and refugee crisis is the largest that the South American continent has seen in modern history.
Within that context, Venezuelans are constantly struggling with their sense of identity and belonging. What is home? Is it what you leave behind, what you carry in your backpack or what you carry within you?
The Venezuelan people have a love-hate relationship with their country: they love the landscapes, warmth, and cultural heritage, yet they hate what it has become and all of the scars that have been left on each citizen. But the truth is that a longing to return is shared by those who leave, and it is hoped for by those who are left behind. There is a melancholy of being home but feeling completely alienated in a place that you no longer recognize because all of the indications that created a feeling of being at home have disappeared under the crushing weight of the collapse of the country.
This is the place that I call home, and this my experience of our collapse.
Adriana Loureiro Fernandez is a freelance multimedia journalist currently based in Caracas, Venezuela.
Focusing on non-traditional conflict and migration, her work has been featured in The New York Times Lens Blog
, The Los Angeles Times
, The Intercept
In 2017, Adriana received Ian Parry's Highly Commended Award and she was named one of TIME's 34 “Female Photographers to Follow From Around the World.” In 2016 and 2017 her work was exhibited at Photoville in New York City as part of their Emerging Artist exhibition, and she was among the first generation of Adobe Rising Stars.
She has a master's degree in Journalism from Columbia University in New York City, where she was a fellow at the Global Migration Project. She is a 2017 alumna of The New York Times Student Institute, and a 2018 Eddie Adams Workshop alum where she received the Nikon Award.
Recently she became a fellow at the Heinrich Böll Foundation, which funded a reporting project in North Africa to explore the migrant crisis.