Then things got dangerous in Venezuela. After a dictator took over, their plans there were cut short. The kids asked if they could all leave and move to the U.S. where they hoped they’d be safe from political problems.
“It was bad there,” Hugo said of Venezuela. “It was dangerous and we were old. So we came here on the seventh day of the seventh month of 2007.”
They consider themselves blessed that all four of their children live in the same country with them, even though they’re not all in Kokomo. Hugo and Liliana chose to settle here since that’s where their youngest grandchildren were living. They really like the area.
“If I go to the pharmacy at Walmart everybody knows me and knows my name, probably because I talk too much,” Hugo laughed.
He said that it makes him feel good, and Liliana agrees.
“Here I am happy,” Liliana said. “I feel safe and our neighbors are nice. It’s not easy to be an immigrant. Especially here because I don’t speak English well since I don’t go out and work and practice.”
A friend is helping Liliana become a U.S. citizen, something that Hugo accomplished in 2013.
“I am now an American,” he said. “And a Venezuelan and a Chilean. I have three citizenships.”
Hugo and Liliana say it was always their goal to be good role models to their children, even though it’s sometimes hard.
“The life of a marriage is not easy,” Liliana said. “You need to adapt to each other. Without love, problems are big problems. With love, you can fix it.”
Their 55-year-long marriage has spanned two continents, but now, they say they’re where they need to be.
“When you got the right couple and you grow up as a person and family, you accept each other with all the problems and change that happens,” Hugo said. “It’s something so natural for us. There’s not a recipe for that kind of thing.”