It’s been at least three-months since anti-government protests in Venezuela went out of control. Just in the last week people have died — and even been set on fire — and journalists have been targeted.
The protests first began in 2014 and one Venezuelan journalist who was targeted narrowly escaped and has a new life in Corpus Christi.
Her family, however, is still dealing with the dangers back home.
“As a journalist, you know, I know you understand we stand for freedom and democracy all the time,” Maria Quevedo-Garza said.
Quevedo grew up with childhood arthritis and wasn't supposed to live past 15 years old, but fought through and one day became a journalist. As a television reporter and public relations specialist, she was reporting things the government didn't agree with. She was one of the hundreds of thousands of Venezuelans who protested for freedom; but doing her job nearly ended her life.
“I got kidnapped,” Quevedo said. “They put a blindfold over my eyes so I didn't know where I was being taken.”
She was forced to the back of her own car while men held her at gunpoint, and after four hours she convinced them to let her go. They told her to drive and not look at anybody, and that harrowing day forced her to make the most difficult decision — to leave her family behind.
“I love my country more than anything, but it wasn't a place for me to be there anymore,” Quevedo said. “It wasn't safe.”
Quevedo moved to Austin where her aunt lived, met her husband and moved to Corpus Christi two years ago. Now she has a business making jewelry.
“It represents the Venezuelan people because I make it,” Quevedo said. “I bring with me everything I know, everything I’ve lived, and my culture.”
Her business is called MAQ, her initials, and she has been so successful that she now has a full storefront and booming online sales.