Living abroad changes a person. But what if your home country changes beyond recognition while you are away? It happened to Zurich Insurance expat partner Ana Bizot. She feels there’s no way back to Venezuela.

World-class fencer

Ana is a former world-class fencer who won gold at the Pan American Games in 2001. She first left Venezuela for Poland when she was just 18 years old. In Gdansk, she joined other Venezuelan fencers and competed around Europe. However, it was 2001. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had just come to power and the government implemented tight currency controls.

Living the dream

It meant Ana’s parents were unable to financially support their daughter overseas. But Ana battled on. “I had a dream,” she explains. “I wanted to be a great fencer, to earn a degree abroad, to speak several languages, and to discover what the world had to offer. It was nice to work towards this goal. Unfortunately, a serious knee injury hampered her sporting career and eventually forced her to retire.

Difficult to travel

Ana stayed in Europe, became a linguist and married Swiss native Matthias Rubin. They have recently moved to Mexico City for his work with Zurich Insurance. “It’s weird,” she says. “I’m closer to Venezuela, but it is not as close as it should be. Venezuelans can’t travel a lot and it’s difficult to travel to Venezuela. It is a complex situation. There is no order anymore. I hope it will get better so I can see my family more often.”

I can’t go back
“It’s impossible to live there now. My parents have to queue four to six hours to buy meat or eggs. It’s really crazy,” she continues. “Before, I wanted to go back to Venezuela and now I can’t, because there is nothing there for me… It’s a very beautiful country… but I don’t feel safe anymore. I prefer to see my parents abroad. I wish I could go back, I really wish that, but not now.”

Karen Glerum
Global Connection

Adapted and edited from an original article, in Global Connection’s media for spouses (B2B subscription), on the subject of expat life.