Business & Economy

4 Venezuelans pursuing American Dream by selling arepas in Honduras

By German Reyes

Danli, Honduras, Jan 19 (EFE).- The first attempt by four Venezuelans to get to the United States in pursuit of the American Dream was stymied when they were unable to travel through Mexico, a situation that forced them to return to Honduras, where they are now selling “arepas” (corncakes) and other fast food from their native land.

With the aim of getting to the US on a second try, a month ago the four migrants began selling “arepas with shredded meat and cheese, pulled chicken and cheese, … Venezuelan hot dogs, hamburgers, kebabs, grilled meat and shawarmas,” said Frandys Osorio, 43, a “businessman” who left his native country more than three months ago.

The others in the group are Anthony Torrealba (28), his wife, Saray Espinoza (33) and their daughter Marianyerlys Espinoza (14), who last September arrived in Danli, Honduras, about 60 miles east of Tegucigalpa, where they got to know Frandys.

In Danli, Frandys began trying to earn a living – working for tips by helping push the baskets for customers at a supermarket, while Saray and her two relatives sold “chupetas” (sweets) on the street.

Saray told EFE that, from Frandys, they learned of a shelter for migrants in Danli, a city where they said the people have treated them very well, but since their goal was – and is – to achieve the American Dream they continued with their risky trek to the US.

“On Sept. 27, we got here, I was in the shelter for three weeks. Then, I met (Frandys), who is working with me, and we decided to go to the United States to find the American Dream,” she said, seated on a wooden bench with her green, mobile food kiosk, which functions as the kitchen for her little street business, which she has named “El Panita Burguer!” (The little burger bun).

Sarah said that after crossing Guatemala their journey in Mexico consisted of running here and there trying to avoid persecution by the immigration authorities.

Given all the harassment, “we decided to go back,” not all the way to Venezuela but rather to Danli “because of the friendliness of the people, who supported me during the time I was here before,” she said.

Upon returning to Danli, Frandys spoke to Saray about a food wagon that was not being used and was standing on one of the downtown streets, and she sought out its owner to ask him if she could rent it.

Among the Danli residents who have provided help to Saray is Elvia Madrid, who works with a humanitarian foundation and loaned her money so that she could start the Venezuelan fast food business, which has proved to be very popular with the locals.

“She’s always helped me. She’s like a mother, she gives me advice. The day I leave here I’ll take her in my heart,” said Saray, as her husband Anthony returned from buying vegetables and other fresh food and her daughter chopped onions and chili peppers for the business.

The first time that Saray left Venezuela was seven years ago, heading to Colombia where she worked as a carpenter and sold arepas and other food. Her other child, Luis Alejandro Espinoza, 18, lives in Ecuador with an aunt, she said.

Frandys said that “it’s been three months” since he left Venezuela “with a goal, what they call the American Dream, supposedly for us to go to the US to work.”

He added that “it’s been an odyssey,” above all crossing the Darien Gap in Panama, and he said he thanks “God that we were able to get through.”

About Danli, he said that “the people are very helpful” and “they seem to be a lot like my people, in San Carlos,” in Venezuela’s Cojedes state.

Danli, in El Paraiso province bordering on Nicaragua, has become a waystation on the new travel route for thousands of migrants, most of them Venezuelans, Cubans and Haitians, but also other nationalities, who cross through Honduras en route to the US.

Frandys said that “God” will decide his fate but for the time being he will remain in Danli “working as hard as I can,” waiting for the day “as soon as possible” when he can be with his family, specifically with his wife and two sons, one of them 11 and still in Venezuela and the other older one, a baseball player, living in Argentina.

“The economic situation in Venezuela isn’t good. You work and work and you can’t get by, which is what everyone is looking for,” said Frandys.

The four migrants hope that “El Panita Burger!” will earn them enough money to continue their journey to the US, encouraged by the many friends they’ve made in Danli, where Saray says that some tell them not to give up on their own dream.

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