Miami-Dade County

Venezuelans in Miami call for global protests to denounce new term for Maduro

Venezuelan opponent in exile Freddy Solórzano, right, talks during a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, at Doral’s Tropico Restaurant. They announced scheduled worldwide protests Thursday against President Nicolas Maduro’s second term as Venezuelan president. Maduro is being sworn in as president on Thursday.
Venezuelan opponent in exile Freddy Solórzano, right, talks during a press conference Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, at Doral’s Tropico Restaurant. They announced scheduled worldwide protests Thursday against President Nicolas Maduro’s second term as Venezuelan president. Maduro is being sworn in as president on Thursday. dsantiago@miamiherald.com

Venezuelans in Miami are calling fellow countrymen to participate in a global protest against the second term of Nicolás Maduro as president of Venezuela, who will be sworn into office Thursday for his second six-year term.

In Miami, a protest is planned from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Thursday in front of the Consulate General of Venezuela, 1101 Brickell Ave. A second demonstration will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. at the park in front of Doral City Hall, 8401 NW 53rd Terrace. Doral is home to many Venezuelans.

Opposition leader Pablo Medina, who chairs the Patriotic Junta organization, said Maduro is usurping power after voters approved a new term in a May 20, 2018, election that much of the international community does not recognize. He also alleged that the country is being run by the drug cartels with support from Cuba, China and Russia.

“The international community has to know that it is not facing any dictatorship like the ones in Latin America in the last century,” Medina said at press conference on Wednesday.

Since Maduro came to power in 2013 — after the death of his mentor Hugo Chávez — Venezuela has faced an intensifying economic downturn, stemming from lower oil prices, political corruption and Maduro’s policies, which have resulted in the country’s GDP plummeting to nearly half its value. Hyperinflation — inflation hit nearly 1 million percent in 2018 — and a shortage of food has left many Venezuelans struggling with deep hunger.

Various organizations of Venezuelans living abroad have called for protests in 100 cities across the globe, 20 of them in the United States, in front of the headquarters of the Venezuelan consulates and embassies, said former Venezuelan deputy Freddy Solórzano. The Lima Group, which represents 14 Latin American countries, has urged Maduro to refrain from taking office.

“We have to mobilize so that the regime is totally illegitimized,” Solórzano said. “Venezuelans can’t take it much longer, living without medicine, food and without freedom.“

José Antonio Colina, president of another organization of political exiles known by the Spanish acronym (Veppex), said the purpose of the protest is show the widespread rejection of Maduro and his regime.

“We do not recognize Nicolás Maduro, any of his ministers or those in charge of the executive power in Venezuela,” he said.

Colina said protesters will call on the international community to break diplomatic relations with the Maduro regime and apply economic pressure by suspending all commercial transactions with the Venezuela government.

Miami protest organizers also invited members of the Cuban and Nicaraguan communities, whom they say also face “dictatorial regimes,” to participate.

Beyond Miami Dade, protests are scheduled to take place in Buenos Aires, Bogotá, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, Quito, Ottawa and various other cities, activists said.

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