In between bridges

Daniela Aguillon

   The hotspot of crime, known for drug lords, poverty, kidnappings, robbery, and humanitarian crisis, all these crimes increased after Hugo Chavez took over in 1999, and Nicolas Maduro took over in 2013. The place I’m referring to is Maracaibo, Venezuela. 

   Working as a taxi driver during 1996, when at only sixteen having to help support his family during a crisis of poverty throughout the country. Jorge Aguillon worked as a taxi driver. One day, while working his shift around noon, two drug dealers confronted Aguillon at gunpoint. The dealers, who wouldn’t take no as an answer, forced him to drive them to a restaurant an hour away. 

   Some information about his family background. During this time in Venezuela, it was a corrupt country that was in a downward spiral. To show how corrupt Venezuela was, when Aguillon was a teen, his home was robbed by the local government officials. Bianca Molina, his mother said, “I didn’t know what to do at that moment, they just barged in and took whatever they wanted.” They knew they couldn’t say anything to risk getting discriminated against.

   As Aguillon was driving the two drug dealers to this unknown restaurant, he said, “I was scared, I didn’t think something like this would ever happen to me.“ He didn’t know what was going to happen to him in the next hours. Before entering the restaurant, he says he parked his car illegally on purpose just to have an excuse to leave the restaurant.  After entering the restaurant, both men asked him if he wanted to eat or play pool with them. He responded no.

    After an hour, he decided to ask them if he could check on his car. As he checked on his car he said, “There were stores everywhere, there was a pizzeria right in front of the restaurant. It looked like downtown Holland, people were just walking around.“ As hours had passed, he said, “It was very dark outside, pitch black; I was terrified because I knew if they wanted to kill me they could.“

   He decided to finally put his future into his own hands, and decided to tell both men he was gonna go check on his car. As he walked out the front of the door, he looked around and saw no one around. He decided to calmly walk over to the car, and quickly got into the driver seat, and sped away. He states, “They told me that they knew where I lived, where I worked, and I was terrified for months after it happened. Always having to look over my shoulder.” He says after that day, he never saw them again. 

   The kidnapping was one of the main reasons he decided to flee Venezuela, as well as better opportunities for his family. “What happened to me on that day, was the main reason I left Venezuela, I was terrified, and I didnt want to live like that anymore.“ Aguillon at 20 years old, decided to get married to Rixibel Rodriguez, and at 21, they both made a rough decision, and immigrated to Michigan because they had family living there. He says, “I got into the states, with only 15 bucks, I didn’t even know the language, I didn’t know anybody.” As Aguillon and Rodriguez navigated trying to learn the native language, they also had to figure out how to get a job. “My first job was planting tomatoes, and lettuce, then after that I got 3 jobs to help support my family, at Taco Bell, Russ’s, and a paper route.” Rodriguez adds on saying, “Having to take care of my five year old sister, and our mom still being in Venezuela was the toughest part of moving to the US. “ 

   A major event that happened to Aguillon a few years after moving to Michigan was the process of starting his semi-trucking business with his son Jorge Luis Aguillon.

   Now finally, Aguillon can move on with his life, worry free from the danger that he has left behind in Venezuela, and the restrictions that the government had on him. He can move on and start a new chapter of his life.