Inspiring Expats: The Venezuelan Youtuber Inspired by his Hungarian Legacy

  • 25 Apr 2023 6:05 AM
Inspiring Expats: The Venezuelan Youtuber Inspired by his Hungarian Legacy
This segment showcases stories of expats rooted in this land, inspired to add cultural value through their craft, written by the journalist Daniel Sepúlveda O.

"Just as my grandfather arrived in Venezuela, I arrive in Hungary". Since then, this repatriate pleased with his life in Budapest seeks to contribute from his audio-visual path to become an alternative of constant help for his nationals with an interest in Magyar culture and Spanish speakers in general. Ferenc Ortiz's YouTube channel is to date the only one with continued content regarding Hungary made by a Latino living in this country.

When I meet with Ferenc, he comes from a recording session. It is Saturday. A day that he tries not to miss whenever he has a video plan in motion. During the week he works in a multinational company to be able to live in Budapest, but in which he is always on the lookout for new ideas that seem interesting to the specific audience that follows him on his YouTube project. A personal quest that being a diversion still requires a lot of working time.

Talking about Budapest and the culture in Hungary is his most demanding hobby. An incitement originated after his arrival in the country (2018) within the framework of the local government's repatriation program for Venezuelans with Hungarian ancestors.

As soon as Ferenc had managed to settle here, he had a very first drive in order to contribute to the community. That one was to volunteer to cooperate with the NGO that brought him and that was (and still is) in charge of welcoming his compatriots attached to the same program to Hungary.

“There were many Venezuelans arriving and I didn't want them to face all the questions that I arrived with. Being received by a Hungarian is not the same as being received by someone from your homeland with explanations. I think I received around 500 people in three months”.

After this experience, he realized that the problem of the lack of information could be addressed in more ways. This is how the idea of opening his current YouTube channel (@Ferenc_Ortiz) came about in 2019. Although Ferenc graduated in Law, a profession in which he was a professor of philosophy of law in his homeland, he says that precisely his main methodology when it comes to creating a video in relation to Hungary is that one based on how to gain knowledge through doubt: Cartesian doubt.

“One must ask the reasons behind everything. For example, the demolished Erzsébet Bridge (he shows a photo) was the current white bridge. It was beautiful, spectacular, yellow... And why then didn't they rebuild it to its original aesthetic? Because those who built it were the communists. And you are not going to continue emphasizing what Hungary was before the communist occupation. You have to do something new. And so, with curiosity, I realize if there is an angle for a video”.

Ferenc Ortiz Nagy is a local culture enthusiast. It is fair to say that he is enjoying everything that his grandfather Antal could not in his desire to return to his country, which was never possible. Until Ferenc was 10 years old, he heard all sorts of life stories about Hungary from his maternal grandfather. But this cultural transference had its clear limits for the IIWW ex-soldier.

Antal Nagy never wanted to teach his language to anyone in the family, for fear that they would be found by the persecution of the Soviet regime. Not only would his new Venezuelan family be in danger, but also the one he left behind in Debrecen.

“The KGB was murdering Hungarians in Latin America who they knew were deserters from the Hungarian army. The father of a very close Hungarian woman was poisoned in Bogotá. For my grandfather in Venezuela, the less they knew that he was Hungarian, the better. Let the Russians give him up for dead”.

According to the records that Ferenc's family managed to obtain about this ancestor, the ship in which the self-exiled figure (Urania) was traveling had a passage through Italy. However it finally disembarked in Venezuela, since this was the only country that had its doors open without visa requests to migrants, so "he travelled knowing he was going to Venezuela, but not knowing where he was going to end up," says Ferenc.

When the socialist bloc fell, Ferenc's grandfather decided to send a recorded cassette to his family in Debrecen. Gladly the material found its way into good hands and they sent him a recording back as well. That emotional first communication with his homeland in more than three decades would also be his last. Two years after that he died in Venezuela.

“My grandfather was recruited into the Hungarian army and so he fought for Hungary, not for Germany. He was very nationalistic, but not a Nazi. He did it out of love for his country, beyond the ideological context. He had a gunshot wound to the back and a long gunshot scar on his skull (parietal side) that missed him by millimeters.

He was missing one leg and two fingers on another. He worked until the last day of his life until he passed away at the age of 71. We grew up with that ´hopefully one day we will know our grandfather´s land”.

Photo by Daniel Sepúlveda.

These transmitted experiences are essential to understand the interest in Hungarian culture that characterizes Ferenc so much. He and his family are marked with blood, by the story of a man who left with them both knowledge and mystery. In this way, he together with his mother and his younger sister arrived in Budapest almost 5 years ago.

“When we arrived at the airport, there was a committee of about ten family members waiting for us with Hungarian gifts. My mom's cousins and my grandfather's nephews. Without us speaking Hungarian and they without speaking English, the language was not necessary, to make us cry a lot”.

Due to the well-known political and social situation in Venezuela, for Ferenc, the lifestyle difference between his land and Hungary is simply total. A context that offers a natural standpoint to communicate all kinds of comparisons on his YouTube channel. The same that catalyzes a high interest in his audience that remains in Venezuela, that according to him, not only gives rise to discussion but sometimes also to criticism.

“I have my haters and it's okay. People have a complex that if I speak well of Hungary, it is because I speak badly of Venezuela. And I have never spoken ill of Venezuela, but of its politicians. An example was my video of a supermarket in Hungary compared to the ones there. I come from a country where what politicians do is harm. If I feel that I have to talk about it on the channel, I do so”.

Photo by Daniel Sepúlveda.

With a keen interest in history and political conversations, among other topics, it is not difficult to recognize that what drives Ferenc in these matters is to always be looking to learn something new and "listen to those who know". He stresses, however, that especially on political issues, his rule is to always put the facts first. And with this same respect for being as enlightened as possible every day, he confesses that one of its self-imposed goals is to obtain a tourist guide license.

"I want to teach and I think this place has a lot more to discover than it already has. Before the pandemic, at the peak of tourism, a country of nine million inhabitants reached 18 million people due to visitors. Twice as many. What does that tell us? That this is a country with a charm all of its own. There are a lot of people who want to know what life is like in Hungary.

Ferenc's easygoing character makes him a suitable participant in social gatherings. When it comes to talking about Hungary, however, his tone is not only of interest as it might be to other admirers of the Magyar country but also of wide gratitude. "Here you will not make a fortune, but you will live in peace", he concludes.

Ferenc Ortiz's YouTube channel is his window onto the world around him from now on. Land in which he is not only optimistic about this new life but also joyous for having found the balance here in so many ways that only he knows.

Interview by Daniel Sepúlveda O, contributing journalist for

Main Photo by Daniel Sepúlveda.

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