Hello there, it’s time for another chapter in this ongoing journey of mine, but first, a recap:

Last month, I detailed all the complications that arose after the country’s apostille system went down 24 hours before our original appointment, and all the fruitless hours waiting in line both at the office and in the People’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs™ to try and get a reschedule.

Eventually, the system spewed out new dates for both my brother and myself, June 11 for my brother’s apostille appointment, and June 18 for mine. This, unfortunately, messed up my original timetable and pushed everything back, as it meant that we would not have all of the documentation ready for our respective June 13-17 Italian Consulate appointments.

With nothing else to try, I sent a very formal email to the Italian Consulate, explaining what happened, and respectfully requesting to have our dates rescheduled. The email was responded to, but they paid no attention to the contents of it, instead they gave us both a shared appointment date for the end of November.

I gotta confess that all that conundrum wore me down, because once more, the Venezuelan government screwed me up, big time, and now it meant that I have to wait an extra six months to be able to go to the Italian Consulate and submit everything. 

Be it by the grace of God, or because my mom is always taking care of us from up there in Heaven, things went from depressingly bleak to extremely hopeful, and I’ve managed to get almost back on track.

So here’s how things went over the past two weeks.

My brother's apostille appointment

As scheduled, we both went to the assigned CANTV (government ISP) office on Saturday, June 11. For those that don’t know, Empanada Man’s regime is using these offices as overflow apostille appointment locations, as the main ones are ill-prepared to continuously deal with the still massive influx of apostille requests of people trying to get their documents in order to leave the country, or family members of people that have left the country trying to get their relatives’ documents in order to send them abroad so they can work, study, or what have you.

Despite arriving rather early, my brother was the 34th in the queue, not much else to do but wait for ~2 hours until they opened their doors and started letting people in. Just like the two of us, plenty of people had original May 07 appointments that were rescheduled after the system went down on May 06. I didn’t have any MB left on my phone’s 400MB per month grandfathered data plan, so yes, I was very, very bored.

Anyways, they eventually opened their doors, and people slowly started to go in. At first, and way before you’re allowed inside the office, they do a preliminary checkup of your appointment and ID card to make sure that they match and that you’re supposed to be there on that day before. Naturally, they asked me what I was doing there since I don’t have an appointment, and I explained that I was there to accompany my brother due to his mental condition.

For the first time ever, a Venezuelan government office fast tracked my brother out of the line and they put him among the first to be processed. I went in with him, filled the forms, paid for the apostille fee, and then we proceeded to the checkup desk.

Yes, you have to pay before they check your documents, if there’s a problem you won’t get the money back, and you have to try again whenever the system decides to grant you a new appointment. There were quite a few people who got their requests denied out of technicalities. One woman in particular, had her entire application rejected because she printed a screenshot of the system that showed her apostille appointment info instead of the email that the system sent her. Watching her be in tears is yet another memory I won’t be forgetting anytime soon, who knows how long she had been waiting for that day only to see her efforts go to waste over something so trivial.

A few minutes later, my brother had finally received his birth certificate’s apostille.

Two days later, I went to the Italian Consulate, as that was the date of my original appointment.

A most fruitful trip to the Consulate

I gotta confess that I was rather torn on going, because I did not have all the documentation ready (missing apostilles and the subsequent translation), as such, for a moment, I was like ‘but why even waste the effort and taxi money if I can’t get anything done.’

I’m glad I did not listen to that fleeting thought, because what transpired on that morning got me back on track with everything.

So, on that Monday, I dressed rather nice, with a ‘black and purple drip’ comprised of old work + a shirt I don’t really wear often, because it reminds me of the first bad news about my mom’s cancer (it’s the shirt I wore when they first told her that the first round of chemo was not working).

The Italian Consulate is located at one of the ‘fancy’ parts of Caracas, rather far from where I live at and technically in a different state (Caracas be like that). Even though I had arrived early there were a lot of people outside, and by a lot, I mean a lot.

I was like ‘damn, another long line,’ but unlike a Venezuelan public office, The Italian Consulate is quite punctual with its opening hours, and I gotta give it to them, they’re far more organized, or maybe I’m just too accustomed to Venezuela’s office bs that I found this rather surprising, I don’t know.

Anyways, once it was my turn to enter and my appointment confirmed, I handed out my Venezuelan ID card to security, put on my visitor’s badge, and went further in. Since not everyone was there for Citizenship requests, the line was far shorter than I thought it’d be.

Eventually, my turn came in, and just like the high school days when it was my turn to deliver a homework or report and I’d walk up empty handed, I approached the booth and explained what happened with the apostilles from the get-go.

The bald guy that attended me was rather stern at first with me because of that, but I went through everything with patience. Dude used the copy of my dad’s birth certificate to bring his info on their systems, and lo and behold, he told me what I already knew, that my dad never registered his wedding nor our births.

He checked what documents I had ready, and found them 100% ok, now here’s the one great news that I was not expecting at all. Because the apostille bs was not my fault, he took my original appointment, wrote a letter on it, signed it, stamped it, and handed it back to me.

The note is my saving grace, my asspull, if I’m allowed a bit of swearing. That signed paper allows me to return to the Consulate as soon as I have everything ready and I will be able to submit the application without having to wait for the November appointment. You could have not given me better news on that day, my mood took a 180 turn for the better.

In the case of my brother and his condition, he can enter with me and submit his stuff as long as I bring a medical report that states his condition. I already called in a favor to one of my mom’s friends for this, and I should be getting it soon.

With that piece of paper, I managed to mitigate almost the entirety of the Venezuelan apostille system and all the delays it brought upon me. Had the system bs not occurred, that would’ve been the day I had filed everything, though. Still, I’ll take it. Went back home, thanked God, prayed a little, and with renewed hopes, awaited for my apostille appointment on June 18.

Because the guy did not notice it, and because I have experience working at a Consulate, I explained to the guy the situation with our last names (They wrote it as Caruzo when my dad’s family migrated from Italy but it’s Caruso over there). At first I thought this was going to be a problem, as my dad always told me this was the main reason I could not get Italian passports, but after the guy consulted with his higher ups, they told me that this will not be a problem, and that our Italian papers will have Caruzo as last name, just like our Venezuelan ones.

The one that has to fix anything is my dad and not us, it is literally not our problem, even though I was always told it’d be. On the matter of my half-sister and the bargain I struck with my dad, I kept my end of the deal and got the information for my dad, which I already conveyed to him.

Sorry, phones are not allowed inside, so no pictures, I have to respect that rule.

My Apostille appointment, at last

Because I already had the fresh experience of my brother’s appointment, I decided to go even earlier for mine. I woke up at 4am, got my coffee ready, ate a sandwich, and got dressed. While my intention was to arrive there before 5am, I had to wait for the rather strong rain to end.

So eventually, around 5:45am I took an old umbrella and made my way there as the rain began to subside, arriving a few minutes later, and attaining a not too shabby 11th spot in the queue, had it not rained then I would’ve gotten an even better spot but yeah, I took it.

Some of the people that were among the first had traveled from another state with the hopes of getting their apostille, sleeping inside a vehicle through the rain. While I may joke and complain about all the stuff I’ve had to go through to obtain these documents, I’m fully aware that I have it easy compared to others. I hope they managed to get their stuff at last so that they can leave this country.

I found a little surprise when I arrived, in the form of a bunch of papers taped to the gates of the office saying that the office was going to be remodeled and was thus going to be closed from June 20 until July 11. That meant that no matter what happened, I had to get those apostilles on that day, it was do or die, because if they rejected my request then I had no idea where and when they’d throw a new appointment at me.

I even found some more familiar faces from the original appointment day there too, some of which I had met again during the entirety of this process as we tried to get our appointments rescheduled.

The rest was the same, wait until they opened their doors, go through the preliminary appointment checks, then do the line to pay for the fees, then wait for the verification process, that’s where I started to sweat.

Coincidentally, I got assigned to the same desk and the same clerk that did my brother’s stuff the week prior. I was concerned not because of my birth certificate, but instead of my parents’ wedding, because mine was an atypical request, and it’d only take a simple ‘no’ to derail all of my progress so far and set me back for months.

Normally, if you’re going to apostille something that does not pertain to you directly, such as my parents’ wedding, I should’ve had a power of attorney from either of the parties involved to be allowed to do it. There is no way my dad would’ve given me one, and it’s not like I can ask my mom for one, due to obvious reasons.

I’m not proud of it, but I had to lie and say that I have no contact with my dad, and that I have no idea where he’s at, or if he’s even in the country at all. I bought the original of my mom’s death certificate and enough copies to go around to show why I could not ask my mother for a power of attorney. That was my opening salvo before the lady began her inspection of the documents.

I am not exaggerating when I say that she took over ten minutes going through my parents’ wedding certificate and my mom’s death certificate, trying her best to find something to ‘gotcha!’ at me and deny the request. She eventually got off her seat, and went to consult with a supervisor.

That’s when I said, “Oh shit, I’m fucked.”

She came back, did not say a word, and then went through my birth certificate with the same meticulousness. She also got off her seat with it and went to consult, I once again said “Oh shit, I’m fucked.”

She returned with the same silence, that’s when I asked if everything was ok, once she said yes I finally let go of the mental burden and the uncertainty surrounding my parents’ wedding certificate apostille finally left my mind alone after months — one less thing to be anxious about, and man, does it feel good.

After she finished her inspection she typed in a bunch of info on her computer, and told me to wait one hour outside to be called back in to pick it up.

After an hour and a half or so I finally was called in to pick the apostilles, thus ending a 3+ month chapter of this ongoing story. At last, I had obtained not just apostilles on our birth certificates, but on our parents’ wedding, this one being the hardest to get and realistically, the one with the highest failure chance.

Five different long lines, across five different days over the span of a month and a half during Caracas’ rain season — approximately 16 hours of waiting in line total. All that just to get three apostilles. I am still a bit exhausted, not gonna lie, but there’s still some road to walk.

As for the divorce papers, the guy at the consulate did not ask for them, so let’s hope they’re not asked of me, because that means I have to get a new apostille appointment and well…

The next steps

Unless something unexpected happens, I am officially DONE with the Venezuelan side of this process after five long months of trials and tribulations (excluding all the pre-pandemic effort towards getting this that went to waste). All that remains for me now is 1) get the documents translated, 2) get the medical report for my brother so he can enter the consulate with me, 3) submit everything, and 4) wait for the approval.

Here, a made a progress chart:

By the time you read this, I’ve already begun scouting for a translator among the list of approved ones. I need to evaluate price, time, payment forms, and all that.

Once all this process is concluded we can finally request our Italian passports, that’s a completely separate process, but one that doesn’t involve any additional paperwork, only time.

So, that’s how the past month has gone for me, I went from extremely depressed and demoralized to hopeful, if a bit exhausted.

If all goes well, the next time I bring you guys an update on this saga will be right after I file everything and submit our applications. Fingers crossed, and please, if you can spare some prayers, I’d be mostly grateful,

Thanks, and until the next one!