Hello, I hope everyone is doing well. I want to share with you all another update in this ongoing 2022 story arc of me trying to bypass the ever worsening Venezuelan limitations and obstacles when it comes to obtaining a visa through my last recourse: an Italian passport.

Without further ado, here’s a debrief, so to speak, of my latest steps towards attaining that goal, all of which involve dealing with the eternal Venezuelan Bureaucracy.

After the previous update, I’ve spent the past two months dealing with bureaucracy to gather the last documents I need to proceed with the next step of all of this. Like I said before, I had to pay my way to obtain three out of the four main documents I needed to make this happen (Our two birth certificates and our parents’ wedding).

Those three documents arrived perfectly, there were some unexpected delays but nothing too major. All three are legalized and primed for apostilles and their subsequent translation. I’m not really proud of having to bribe my way to get these, but it was still cheaper than traveling to both Maracaibo and Punto Fijo to get them on my own, all things considered.

I still needed one of the main four documents ready: Our parents’ divorce sentence. I found my mother’s original copy of the sentence among her documents, and that’s the one I submitted for legalization. I’m glad I found the copy because getting a new one would be quite the uphill conundrum, to say the least.

Legalizing the divorce sentence

You’d think getting this legalized would be a smooth process, and it is quite indeed the smooth process. The choke point exists in actually being able to do it.

You see, here’s the kicker: In order to get this legalized you must request an appointment through one of the many Venezuelan government websites. I did the whole sign up process and then realized that, lo and behold, only one office in all of Caracas processes legalizations of divorce sentences.

Obtaining an appointment for this was a process that took me eleven days of trying over and over again. When I first tried on the 17th of March the website said there were no available dates.

I kept trying to no avail. Out of options, I went to the premises of the Main Registry in Caracas on the 22nd of March to ask for information and guidance in order to get this done.

Venezuelan public offices are one of the few places that still does the whole Social Distancing stuff, so while there was barely anyone inside, you had your decently sized line of people waiting outside being slowly dripped in.

Long story short, one lady there told me that I should just keep trying and with luck, I should get an appointment someday.

She suggested I try on Sunday, March 27th, during afternoon hours. Regardless, I kept trying every day before the 27th. I doubled my chances by giving my login info to a friend (absolute King) so we could both try at different hours, no luck, though.

I even tried on the day that I was told to try to no avail either.

The next day, my friend tried somewhere around 05:00p.m. and he got lucky. I was given an appointment for the next immediate day, at 06:00 a.m.

I had to print two copies of the appointment, and it was already kinda late, so I ran my ass off to find a nearby place to print it. Lucky for me, one place hadn’t closed yet (but was about to), and they let me print it.

Anyways, I went to the place early, and partook in the noveaux Venezuelan passtime — waiting in line for hours, so there I was, right on time. There’s something poetic to say about a pristine government office operating in an almost abandoned mall, where most of the stores are either derelict or close down.

The one open place that seemed to be thriving was a small store that, among the things they sold, offered photocopy services.

I gotta say, the fact that they’re strategically placed right outside the government office does bring them good business, at least with the whole photocopy thing.

Slowly but surely, people started to come and wait in line as well. Everyone, regardless of age, belief, race, height, and gender, was there to legalize a document for the same reasons as me: To eventually leave Venezuela, although there were a couple of mothers trying to get documents legalized for their sons that are already out of the country.

The 06:00am time in the appointment was, of course, bullshit, because the office opens at 08:00am, but you’re expected to start waiting in line hours before, as if it was some sort of international flight. Once they opened their doors things moved smoothly, much to my surprise, even with the whole social distance’s slow dripping and all that.

It was too good to be true, though. I was told that it would take three weeks to get the document legalized — alright, fine. To be fair, Holy Week was right around the corner, and most public offices stop working halfway thru Holy Wednesday.

Let’s fast forward to three weeks later and there I was again, at early hours, waiting in line to pick it up. This time, I was not in the line for submissions, but in the other line, for pickups. People in this line have to wait an extra hour or so before they’re allowed in.

I eventually got it, and went back home.

Getting a tax ID for my brother

In addition to all of this, there was one thing that my brother was missing for his appointment: a way to demonstrate and confirm that he does in fact, live in Caracas. This is a requirement that the consulate demands in order to comply with their own regulations. As someone that worked at an embassy more than a decade ago, yeah, I can say that it’s something they all do one way or another.

This is something I got sorted out while waiting for the legalization of the divorce papers.

My brother doesn’t have any services to his name, no phone bills, no bank accounts, and since he doesn’t work due to his condition, no tax ID, so no way to prove that he lives in this apartment.

Naturally, the path of least resistance when it comes to all of this is to just get a tax ID. In order to get a tax ID here you just sign up on the correspondent website, fill the forms, print them, and take them to the Tax offices along with a copy of your Venezuelan ID and something that confirms your address.

Yeah, it’s kind of a redundant feedback loop because in order to get a tax ID you have to have something that confirms your address in order to get it so that you can use your tax ID to confirm your address.

The easiest way to confirm his address for tax ID obtaining purposes was through the local Communal Council (it’s exactly what you think it is). I got in touch with them through someone and they sent me a letter for me to print. I then bought this letter to someone to have it signed, and then to someone else to have it stamped.

With that sorted out, I helped my brother sign up and do the whole process. I accompanied him to the relevant offices one early April Tuesday morning.

No phones allowed inside, so no clear pictures, sorry.

That picture of The Supreme and Eternal Commander (actual title, not making this up) with Che in the background is there to remind you to pay your taxes to contribute to the socialist fatherland (not making this up either).

With that sorted out, the whole phase of gathering documents is over. Now comes step 2.

Apostille appointments

Because the divorce sentence was going to take three weeks to get legalized, I made the decision to start requesting apostille appointments for the things that I already have on the very same week that I submitted the divorce sentence for legalization in order to not waste any more time.

Once again, this involves another government website, with a twist. In order to be able to login on this website and do anything, you must do so on specific days that depend on the last number of your ID card. For example, my brother’s ID ends in 2, so he can only do it on Tuesday and Saturdays. My ID ends in 8, so I’m only allowed to access it on Fridays and Sundays.

This is copied straight out of the ID-based system that was once imposed upon us to ration food during the worst years of the country’s collapse (2015-2018), back when they used fingerprint scanners to restrict the amount of food you could purchase and all that.

Lucky for me, I submitted the divorce for legalization on a Tuesday — the day that my brother could do his. With the help of my friend, I put all the right info and requested an appointment in the nearest possible office: the government ISP’s offices in my area that are now being used for this (since the ISP’s hardware housed there is not working, lol).

The earliest day that they gave me, though, was Saturday, May 07, 2022. I was given the same date for my appointment. So on that Saturday I’ll be there, first thing in the morning, with my brother to get 3 out of 4 apostilles done.

For the divorce’s apostille though, I need to wait until the system clears my appointment so that I can request a new one for this (or my brother’s, whichever happens first).

Current concerns

While I’m pretty much halfway done with all of this, there are still some concerns of mine.

The first of them involves the apostille of my parents’ wedding, since this is not a document that ‘pertains to me’ in a sense, I should have had a power of attorney from my dad to get this done, which there’s no way in hell he’ll give me.

So what I’ll do instead is bring the original and a photocopy of my mother’s death certificate and they should in theory, grant me the apostille, if not I’ll have to get creative.

My second concern involves the date of the appointment vs the lateness of the divorce papers. I don’t know if I’ll have the divorce sentence apostilled and translated on time for my Italian Consulate appointment on June 13.

I’ll talk to them to let me submit this as soon as it’s ready. There’s a chance I can start the whole process while this is being prepped, we’ll see, fingers crossed. Worst case scenario they could tell me that I need to reschedule the appointment until I have the divorce papers ready.

Again, the whole wedding and divorce paper requirement is because my father never did his due diligence with either of these, so it falls to me to do it if I want to get this done.

My third and final concern with all of this is the whole Caruzo – Caruso last name misspelled. My dad shows up as Caruso on Italy’s registry, but his family name was mistyped as Caruzo when they migrated here from Italy. I hope it’s not a problem because I do have everything that proves that he is my dad, regardless of a Z or an S.

Next steps

Right now, all I can do until the May 07th apostille appointments is to start looking for a sworn translator. There’s about 25 or so that are registered at the Consulate so I need to start reaching out to them one by one, see which one is relatively fast and affordable enough for me.

I got everything else ready aside from two forms that I still need to fill as of the time of writing this and some stuff that I have yet to print. After I get the apostilles, the translations, print the last stuff, and fill the forms it’s only a matter of waiting until June.

Well, this is a short resume of my latest bureaucratic skirmishes, I’m slowly, but surely, getting this done. I’ll keep you guys posted as things develop, in the meantime I will humbly ask for your good wishes and prayers. All of this won’t immediately end with me getting a work visa or whatever, but it’ll allow me to move around and travel so that I can see my options.

Until the next one,