VENEZUELANS BAND TOGETHER
Vanessa Castañeda and her family first moved to Orlando in January 2016, a few months after three policemen stopped their 1998 Chevrolet Silverado as they returned from the beach near their hometown in San Diego, Venezuela. The cops held Castañeda and her 3-year-old daughter at gunpoint while her husband took cash out of an ATM to pay them off.
But loneliness pulled them back to Venezuela a few months later.
“I didn’t want to separate from my family,” Castañeda said. “I didn’t want to leave my parents alone.”
Back in Venezuela, they tried to lay low. Castañeda’s husband, Luis Roa, 33, sold the Silverado, which had a custom paint job that made it easy for the country’s federal police to spot. For years, the couple had used the truck to ferry people and supplies to protests against the government of Nicolás Maduro, under which food, water and medicine have become scarce and crime is rampant.
But not a year went by before police again stopped — and briefly detained — Castañeda, 33, and their
An apartment complex in Orlando is home to many Venezuelans who are seeking asylum in the U.S.