Venezuelan expats in Miami forced to vote in New Orleans

Published:  5 Oct at 6 PM
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Due to the closure of the Venezuelan Consulate in Miami, thousands of Venezuelan expats keen to vote against Hugo Chavez are being forced to travel to New Orleans to vote.

Members of the Venezuelan expat community in the USA are mostly hoping the reign of President Hugo Chavez will be over after the upcoming presidential elections, and are prepared to sell the shirts off their backs to get to New Orleans and cast their votes. Florida is a hub from Venezuelan migrants, with the majority determined to get to New Orleans on charter flights or in vehicle convoys by Sunday.

Polls suggest the election will be close, but the Florida community is hoping it will end the dictator’s extended rule. Chavez ordered the Miami Consulate closed earlier this year, potentially denying Venezuelan citizens a vote in the poll.

Expats were angered by Chavez’s decision to close the consulate after the US government deported a Miami based diplomat accused of discussing with her Cuban and Iranian counterparts the possibility of cyber attacks on US targets. At the time, Chavez angrily denied the accusation.

Over 20,000 registered Venezuelan voters living in Florida were left without diplomatic representation as a result, with the closest consulate in New Orleans. Manny Camargo, a Miami spokesman for an opposition coalition, told Reuters the community was about to shock Chavez with their motivation to vote.

Camargo told Reuters that the closure of the consulate had united the Venezuelan community, many of whom had fled the country during the 13 years Chavez has been in power, citing shrinking economic opportunities and rising crime. Consequently, the South Florida community is virulently anti-communist and can’t wait to see Chavez booted out.
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