By Maria Danniella Gutierrez – Salem
Foreign lawyer – Venezuela
What is the best time to become an immigrant? America is full of immigrants who, at some point, doubted whether or not to immigrate. Our interviewee, Humberto Gutiérrez from Venezuela, saw the need to consider the pros and cons of immigrating, considering factors such as family, career and opportunities.
I started my interview by asking what he considered to be the indelible mark his parents had left in him, and with great frankness he replied, “Let me start by explaining that Venezuela, although in its present state is different, used to be a developing country that because of the oil boom opened its doors to many immigrants, including my mother Paulina De Leon who is of Spanish origin and my father Humberto Gutierrez of Venezuelan-Colombian origin. From my parents, I learned the importance of work, and to not be afraid of ventures. For over thirty-five years, they were owners of a shoe factory that they founded and expanded. Since they could not attend college, they went above and beyond to make sure that their three children were professionals that graduated from top universities. My mother always said that there is no expensive education and repeated that she did not mind what our profession was, but that we should always excel, and that only people good at doing something well succeeded. Like many parents of her generation, the best way she showed love for her children was devoting time and giving the best within her means. On the other hand, my mother always wanted to know where and what we did all the time.” It’s something very common in Latin American mothers, I must admit.
I continued my interview by asking a more serious question, “What is your profession”? Humberto smiled and replied: “I graduated with a major in administration, focused on banking and finance, and I have a degree in marketing from the Metropolitan University of Caracas.” I was curious why he chuckled and asked, so he replied, “Thanks to my education, I worked in the three largest multinational corporations in Venezuela, working with personal care, food and spirits. However, my wife Gabriella Gonzalez, who also worked with a multinational company in Venezuela, was offered work in Mexico. We knew that for her, as an engineer, it was a great opportunity. We decided to get married and embark on the adventure of emigrating and start a family, although our son Sebastian had been born in Mexico.
“In Mexico, I discovered that my education and my 12 years of work experience did not secure me a job. It sounds sad but the reality is that when you emigrate without a job offer you will most likely start from scratch. So I decided to support my brilliant wife in her professional development. I became what my uneducated parents were at one time: an entrepreneur. That’s when I decided to buy a franchise and start a complete marketing agency, marketing for consumer/buyers and web design/multimedia. The company was succeeding when my wife was offered another transfer to the United States. Now the decision was not based only in the country. We were always attracted by the idea of living here, for its excellent reference level of security and stability. We arrived in Danbury in January 2014 and, so far, I must say it was the best decision we could have made. I established my company using the same model as in Mexico but aware that there is a growth opportunity for several reasons: 1. approximately 23 percent of the population is Hispanic and, as a Hispanic, I can connect with them and understand their needs and motivations. 2. So far, this niche has not been properly developed and there is an eager market waiting to be exploited. 3. In this country it is easy to do business because of the clarity and straightforwardness of the U.S.”
Final question: “Do you believe in the American dream, Humberto?” He replied in a serious tone: “I live the American dream every day. My family has security. My children, Alexa who was born in Danbury two weeks ago, and Sebastian, will study at top schools. My wife has developed professionally and I see my business flourish. This is a country where truly, no matter what your race, sex, religion or origin is, we all have opportunities, but it is clear: we must work.”
Danniella Maria Gutierrez-Salem practiced law in Venezuela before pursuing her own American dream of becoming a writer in the United States. For those wishing to recommend a story or make comments, I invite you to be costars in this column by contributing ideas and suggestions to firstname.lastname@example.org.