Venezuelan comedians also immigrate

Like many Venezuelans who have left their country, artist Laura Guarisco (Caracas, 32) has tattooed the Ávila hill, the guardianship hill in Venezuela’s capital, in her memory. Also on the skin, where that silhouette is designed on his left arm. “This will be how crazy Caracasans are with the avila,” she says, smiling as she boasts. On his right arm, he is accompanied by another tattoo. A drawing of the migratory warbler, which is the bird used as a metaphor in… nest (Planeta Cómic), the poignant graphic novel he has just published about the Venezuelan diaspora that has overflowed into neighboring Colombia and the rest of Latin America.

From the wine red shirt to the flag-colored bag that many Venezuelans carry, all the charge of migration nostalgia is in the vignettes. nest. comic It depicts the journey of these travelers who crossed swamps and mountains by bus, on foot or at work Auto stopTo settle in search of opportunities in a Colombian city.

Illustrations from the book “Nido” (Planeta, 2023) by Laura Guarisco.Laura Guarisco

“The story seeks to connect with the emotional part,” says Guaresco, an architect and painter who lives in Medellin, on the terrace of a café on Avenida Jiménez in Venezuela’s historic center, to create a collective memory about a wound that many Venezuelans carry. Bogotá, on the slopes of Monserrate Hill, dwarfed by the city of Ávila. He does it on the sidelines Interviews festivalIt is a space dedicated to comics and related arts, which prompted her to visit the Colombian capital last month.

The book begins with a birdwatching scene that introduces Ángel, the novel’s protagonist who, like the author herself, crosses the border amidst fluctuations to settle in Medellín. It does so driven by scarcity, hyperinflation, and the violent suppression of protests in Caracas against the regime of Nicolás Maduro, a real event merging with fictional fiction. In the drawings, you can almost hear the sound of suitcase wheels that have become the soundtrack to the bilateral bridges between Cúcuta and the Venezuelan state of Tachira, a bottleneck for one of the world’s largest migrant flows.

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Illustrations from the book “Nido” (Planeta, 2023) by Laura Guarisco.Laura Guarisco

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More than seven million people have left Venezuela in successive waves, driven by the political, social and economic crisis. Although they are spread across the continent, Colombia is by far the main host country. Official figures – as of October 2022 – show that 2.9 million Venezuelans live on this side of the border, and the vast majority of them intend to stay. Among them, nearly 240,000 are in Medellin.

Every immigrant carries his own story. Guarisco decided to leave Venezuela in 2016. “At the time I was working in an architecture office, but there was a lot of inflation; “One of the main reasons was that I no longer had enough money for many things,” he says. “Many had already left the country, and I no longer had friends in the city where I lived, and I started looking for job offers in Colombia,” he recalls. His mother was born in Barranquilla, so he obtained dual citizenship and initially arrived in the Atlantic capital, where he still has relatives. There he worked as a draftsman on architectural projects and later moved to Medellin.

Illustrations from the book “Nido” (Planeta, 2023) by Laura Guarisco.Laura Guarisco

Although he draws them in great detail nestHe never crossed the bridges linking Tachira to Norte de Santander – although he did cross the border via Maicao, to the north, at La Guajira, when plane tickets were impossible to get. “I was very shocked when I saw all these people crossing the bridge on the news, and I put myself in their shoes. I was very touched when I sometimes saw entire families crossing with their suitcases, as well as the stories of my friends. A lot of what I did in Medellin was crossing that border to get to Colombia.” He collected information He photographed, watched documentaries, relayed what he observed in Maikaw, and even retraced the entire route on Google Street View to capture it in an engaging story from beginning to end.

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– Have you set out to build a model personality for expatriates?

– I wanted to build a character that looked very Venezuelan. In fact, they are parts of my Venezuelan friends. The stories I was seeing, hearing, and being told by people close to me and not so close, ended up on Angel when I went to draw him. I always imagined a male character because I wanted to tell the story from the demonstrations. I was very shocked, when I went to the marches, to see young people who stayed until the end. Physically we ended up making little bits of friends. In the end, all the stories that happened in Angel happened to many of us. We all suffer from the unavailability, shortages and shortages of water, directly or indirectly; All those demonstrations or deaths.

– The Greek writer Theodore Kalifatidis says that emigration is distancing oneself from oneself. How do you deal with this distance with Venezuela?

-It is true that you are moving away from the person you were, but you are also getting closer to a completely new person, who you do not know what he is. And you end up with a new person. The experience with Venezuela at first was very painful. It is not the same to leave the country by one’s own decision, to study something, to learn about a new culture or Tourist, that you have to leave because you have no other choice. He is forced to leave and leave family, friends, places or whoever he was behind. It’s a kind of mourning. Drawing helped me bring out all those feelings and be able to confront them, write them down on paper, and see them from the outside. My relationship with Venezuela is little more than peaceful. I have healed many things. Now I can talk about Venezuela calmly, I’m back. I feel from both places, because one cannot be from anywhere. One is the places where they are located, temporarily or permanently. You also have to take ownership of where you live.

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-Do you already consider Medellin your home?

-Yes. Moreover, Medellin was the city that brought me back to comics, to find spaces that helped me continue working on what I wanted to be. Since I was a kid I’ve always wanted to make comics. Moreover, it is very similar to Caracas, it reminds me of my hometown. I found amazing people who paved the way for me. So, I like him very much. It’s been almost seven years, and I feel like I’m from Medellin, even though they always ask me where I’m from when they hear my accent.

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