Venezuelan Humanitarian Project
Last December, a group of QFloors employees spent a Saturday sorting and labeling hundreds of coats. They were the result of a coat drive sponsored by QFloors, and were shipped to Venezuela refugees in Cucuta, Columbia, fleeing the political unrest, deprivation and chaos of the country.
For Antonio Ortega, QFloors B2B specialist, it was a deeply personal undertaking. He spearheaded the humanitarian project as a way of doing something – anything – for family and friends who were suffering deeply.
The political and humanitarian crisis in Venezuela has had a tragic cost for Antonio. Just a few weeks ago, his healthy 59-year old brother suddenly died during the massive Blackout in Venezuela. While details are sketchy, it appears to have been due to a stroke triggered by dehydration, due to power and water supplies being cut off for 6 days. Antonio blames the corrupt Maduro regime (and his predecessor, Chavez) for his brother’s death. “The infrastructures are failing because of years of mismanagement and corruption by government entities,” explains Antonio. “My brother is only one of many, many victims.”
The loss of his brother is not the only personal impact Antonio has experienced. From 2002 until 2014, Antonio was the successful owner of a business software company in Venezuela. Concerned by the corruption he saw in the Maduro-led government, he became politically involved in the opposition party. In 2011 he helped Leopoldo Lopez establish a political party in his city and was even to the point of getting ready to run for mayor of his city.
It was a decision that had consequences. He realized this the day in July 2014, when they burned his house down, as he and his family were in it. Through what he attributes to the blessings of God, he was able to escape and hide at a relative’s home for a short time. He, his wife, and his son were eventually able to secretly flee the country and were granted legal political asylum in the United States.
Antonio has been working for QFloors for almost 2 years. His technical experience has been a great asset to our company and our customers. When he is not at work, he continues to try to do what he can to advocate for greater freedom in Venezuela and for the safety of loved ones who are victims of the devastating situation.
Over the years, he has held meetings with political leaders, and has helped organize Venezuelans in several cities in the USA to raise awareness. In September, Antonio met with then-UN Ambassador Nikki Haley and others at the UN General Assembly in NYC to discuss the crisis. “We are going to fight for Venezuela, and we are going to continue doing it until Maduro is gone!” Ms. Haley said. The ambassador emphasized that the U.S. stood with them in their fight against Mr. Maduro, and urged them to “keep your voices loud.”
“She was very kind and promised to do what she could to help” says Antonio. Antonio has also met with other Venezuelan ousted leaders that are now part of the strong opposition trying to bring humanitarian aid and freedom to their country.
Talking with Antonio often generates a sobering reality-check, and a perspective adjustment. QFloors president Chad Ogden says, “Antonio is awesome. We’re lucky to have him on our QFloors team. But he is living a story that is just hard to comprehend. Our hearts hurt for him and even more so for the people who are resuffering so greatly in Venezuela. The coat drive was just something we as a company could do to try to help and support in our small way.”