Venezuela

Jews flee Venezuela amid growing political violence

Illustrative: In this March 17, 2017 photo, Jewish converts Sahir Quitero, center, her husband Franklin Perez, son Ezra, left, and daughter Hannah, walk to departures lounge of the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, Venezuela, on their way to Israel. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)
Illustrative: In this March 17, 2017 photo, Jewish converts Sahir Quitero, center, her husband Franklin Perez, son Ezra, left, and daughter Hannah, walk to departures lounge of the Simon Bolivar International Airport in Maiquetia, Venezuela, on their way to Israel. (AP Photo/Fernando Llano)

Jews in Venezuela are increasingly fleeing the country amid the rising political instability and violence under President Nicolas Maduro, with a growing number decamping for Israel.

Speaking at their new apartment in Jerusalem, Estella and Haim Sadna, a religious couple with four kids from the Venezuelan capital Caracas, described the food scarcity and rampant crime that drove them to move the Jewish state.

“Most of the supermarkets are empty. Everything is empty. You can see that all the aisles are completely empty,” Haim Sadna told Channel 2 in an interview aired Saturday.

His wife Estella complained of the difficulty in Venezuela of buying basic products such as milk for her kids, adding that “since Passover we haven’t had bread.”

“We lived in a beautiful home with seven rooms. But we left everything behind. We left the house, we left the furniture, the cars. Everything remained [there],” the couple said. “We brought the clothes that we use. That is what we brought, clothes and shoes.”

The Sadna family at their apartment in Jerusalem. (Screen capture: Channel 2)
The Sadna family at their apartment in Jerusalem. (Screen capture: Channel 2)

The Sadnas also noted the collapse of public services in the country such as healthcare, as well the sky-high crime rates, with Venezuela having some of the world’s worst murder statistics.

“The crime situation is [so bad] that it is scary to go out to the street. I only go out of it is essential and that is it,” Estella said. “At five p.m. we would run home.”

“The situation got worse and worse. We could no longer go out to the street,” she continued. “On most days the kids didn’t go to school. They said they were in jail, that the house was a jail. The children have no life [in Venezuela].”

While Venezuela once had one of the largest Jewish communities in the region, numbering some 25,000 in 1999, only about 9,000 Jews are believed to remain in the country. Israel has been working behind the scenes in order to bring as many of those remaining as possible…

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