Lawyer turned restaurant manager Miguel Delgado escaped political and economic turmoil in Venezuela to live in Cardiff, where he now calls home
Miguel Delgado grew up witnessing civil unrest, economic struggles and complete turmoil as a boy in Venezuela in the 1980s. After meeting a friend when visiting the UK, he offered him a “lifeline” in Cardiff and Miguel moved over permanently. This meant leaving his family and friends behind in the small coastal town.
Miguel studied law in his 20s, but then switched careers after arriving in Wales and now works in hospitality as the general manager of Mowgli Street Food restaurant on Church street. He first came to the UK in 2012 to begin to learn the English language, where he studied in Bournemouth for a year. Upon returning to Venezuela he said, “I felt so repressed and couldn’t wait to get out.” this isolation he felt stemmed from his career and lifestyle as a gay man.
Born in Venezuela in 1988, Miguel grew up in an unstable under-developed country without hot water in his home, little public transport, and poor housing. When 1999 brought in President Chavez; it ignited the country’s socialist revolution.
During his studies at University of Venezuela, Miguel encountered broad-minded people, where they played an active role in politics with protests and civil rights movements. “One time, I got detained during a protest,” he said carefully.
After noticing the differences between life in Venezuela and the UK, Miguel decided he wanted out. In 2016 his good friend from his first visit in 2012 opened a restaurant. “Mike opened a small restaurant in Bridgend and offered me a lifeline and somewhere to stay for a couple of weeks,” he said.
The lawyer turned restaurant manager escaped turmoil and recognises himself as lucky and privileged. He said, “I managed to get out without so many struggles, while others are crossing dangerous war zones for similar reasons.”
As much as Miguel loved his law career, he revealed, “You have this marvellous idea of what your degree is going to be like.” Eventually life as a lawyer was lonely, he lost his passion and fell out of love with it.
Starting his career in hospitality, Miguel began to notice the connections he made with customers. The tight teamwork and the beauty of it. He explained how hospitality helped him whereby his circle of friends are people he used to work with. He said, “you find somewhere so comfortable and find friends that make you feel like you belong.”
Miguel clarified that he would not move back to Venezuela, referring to Cardiff as his home. He said that the country has no LGBTQ+ rights, “We have no protection to get married, to not be fired.” He has recently celebrated his four year anniversary with boyfriend, Mark.
Miguel’s mother, Venezuelan, wanted to leave the country too but family bonds kept her there. His father, Spanish, will live the rest of his life in Venezuela.
In order for Miguel to travel back, he would have to renew his Venezuelan passport. While not being recorded at the Venezuelan embassy in London, this would be a difficult and long process.
Venezuela would allow Miguel, half-Spanish, to travel into the country using his Spanish passport. Venezuelan nationals can only leave the country with their Venezuelan passports. He warned that he did not want to risk it.
Four and half years since seeing her, Miguel’s mother is visiting him in Cardiff for two months in December. Excited to see her after so many years apart, Miguel can’t wait to show her his life in Wales.
Since moving to Cardiff, Miguel said, “Something magical happens to people that migrate, you have the place that you were born, but there is that other place where you have made your home.” He has made Cardiff his home.