Anya Magnuson

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A child of two nations: Hope for ‘democracia’ in Peru spurs new parents

LIMA, Peru – The decision to leave was almost inevitable. Nersis Arrieta and Edil Aguilar had lived through the shortages, the canceled university classes, the throttling of political dissent, the grim economic reality of Venezuela. They were married and hoped for children.

But as a doctor, Arrieta had seen the vaccine shortages, the lack of medicine and the absence of basic sanitary supplies firsthand. She and her husband wanted their child to be born safely. They wanted their child to be born “en la democracia,” as Aguilar said.

When the couple left their troubled country in January 2018, they packed their lives into three suitcases and sold the rest of their possessions to buy bus tickets for their six-day trip to Lima, where they joined hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans starting new lives.

They spent the first month with family members who had immigrated the year before. Arrieta started the long process of trying to get her medial credentials recognized in Peru. Aguilar found a job in a call center. Less than six months after arriving in Peru, Arrieta became pregnant.

The couple found a doctor who was willing to waive his delivery fees, cutting the cost of the birth significantly. Aguilar saved his wages from a call center job, gathering just enough money to pay for the Cesarean section that Arrieta would need. On the day of the surgery, there were three doctors in the room: Arrieta and the two performing the operation. All were Venezuelans.