Already two weeks ago, it was revealed, that the first group of repatriated Slovenians from Venezuela had already arrived in Slovenia. The repatriation conditions here are strict, and quite some people are expected to complete their applications. Everyone that are already here, wants to learn the language and find work as soon as possible.
Last November, our government adopted a repatriation action plan, to allow Slovenians in Venezuela and their family members, to return to Slovenia, due to difficult living conditions that are going on in this South American country. As they said at a press conference of the Office for Slovenes Abroad, a larger group of Venezuelan Slovenians seeking repatriation is already in Slovenia. The repatriation proces, however, is still ongoing and the Office still continues to accept applications. So far, 29 people have been approved for repatriation and 21 of them are already in Slovenia. So far, there has been no such repatriation plan in our country, therefore several challenges have to be taken care of: from arranging their arrival in Slovenia, to finding accommodation and employment in Slovenia. At the moment, Slovenia has received a request for repatriation of about fifty persons, 16 decisions have been issued for 29 persons, six people came to Slovenia in December 2019 and the remaining fifteen arrived in January 2020.
According to the decisions that have been issued now, eight more people are expected, because some are still waiting for the end of the school year and others still handling their personal matters. Otherwise, it is estimated that about 15 more people will come to Slovenia, because some are still waiting to complete their applications. It is not certain whether as many applications are given that many people will be repatriated, as each application, received at the office, will be examined individually: some applicants may not be eligible and others do not know whether they will be repatriated for personal and family reasons. As they pointed out at the press conference of the Office for Slovenes Abroad, the conditions they set for repatriation are really quite strict, since applicants must prove that they are of Slovene origin, they must also provide documentation of impunity and they must have active ties with Slovenia or to be active in some of Slovenian associations.All the procedures so far have taken a very long time and this did not depend solely on the state: "Some procedures were a little longer because they put security on first place," the secretary at the Office for Slovenians Abroad Mr.Dejan Valentincic explained at a press conference, adding that this countrymen had arrived in Slovenia before the worst could happen and explained also how difficult they lived in Venezuela.
Slovenian language for Slovenes
Upon returning to Slovenia, the state will cover all the repatriated people the basic cost of living for 15 months, will also provide them basic health care and will provide them with temporary housing with private individuals or other accommodation options of our state. Rights of close family members, who were already granted arrival in Slovenia, but are not of Slovenian descent, are slightly lower. They also said, that of those repatriated so far, two-thirds live with relatives and one-third has been assisted by the state in finding accommodation.
Slovenian compatriots from Venezuela are deployed throughout all the Slovenia and in most cases live where they are most likely to get a job. As they provide at the office, every one of them wants to find a job as soon as possible and some of them already even have had job interviews. Among the repatriated Slovenes, some of whom also came to the press conference at the office, are also quite highly educated, including a doctor of chemistry and a defectologist. Repatriation was mostly requested by young families, but their age structure varied from five years onwards. Many of them do not know Slovene language, however, they began to learn Slovene and improve it, immediately after their arrival. One of the problems, associated with learning the Slovene language, they are facing is, that they still provide Slovene language learning only to foreigners, but not also to persons of Slovenian descent. The office is assured that this problem will also be solved soon. According to the Office for Slovenians Abroad in Venezuela, which has been shaken by the economic, political and social crisis for many years now, lives 335 Slovenian citizens and up to thousands of people of Slovenian descent, but not all of them are eligible for repatriation.
It may surprise anyone in Slovenia that knowledge of Slovene language is not one of the conditions for repatriation, which is explained at the office by the fact that language as a national identity is usually lost among expats among the first. "You can be a good Slovene without the knowing Slovene language, as many people keep their identity with habits, such as baking pots for holidays and the like," said Mr.Dejan Valentincic, secretary at the office.
Slovenians from Venezuela, who have already arrived in Slovenia in the repatriation process, are feeling well and relieved, to be able to live in peace and freedom. Some, as mentioned earlier, also presented themselves at a press conference. Mr.Andres Hocevar, who recently arrived in Slovenia, as part of his repatriation process with his family, said: "We are glad to be here and to be safe!". Mr.Andres Hocevar, who continues to remotely manage his IT Company in Venezuela, brought with him also his sister Daniela and his wife and daughter. Despite his relief, he is also very concerned about the part of his family left in Venezuela: only his parents are there to help them. Hocevar's family is already full of plans for their future here in Slovenia: Andres's sister Daniela, for example, wants to be able to have her own dance school here, as she had in Venezuela, since she has a dance in her blood. Among the younger cousins, who already arrived in Slovenia, are 19-year-old Maria and 14-year-old Ana Paula who came to our country with their grandmother Slavka Voglar and her sister Marija Voglar. She was actually the engine that powered the whole process of total repatriation of our countrymen. The younger two sisters still have a mother in their native country Venezuela, while the father is still in Spain, where he went seeking for a better future, as said by Slavka Voglar. Like the Hocevar family, both sisters admitted that it was the hardest thing to leave family behind, but they are already looking forward to a new life in Slovenia.