Doral

Doral’s Venezuelans protest power grab from Legislature, calling Maduro ‘Caesar’

Luis Florido, center, speaks to a gathering of local Venezuelans protesting Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling seizing power from the Venezuelan National Assembly. The crowd gathered at El Arepazo Original in Doral on March 31, 2017.
Luis Florido, center, speaks to a gathering of local Venezuelans protesting Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling seizing power from the Venezuelan National Assembly. The crowd gathered at El Arepazo Original in Doral on March 31, 2017. jiglesias@elnuevoherald.com

Almost 200 people, including two leading Venezuelan politicians, protested Friday night in Doral after the Venezuelan Supreme Court seized power from the National Assembly, Venezuela’s version of Congress, in a ruling Wednesday night.

"Venezuela today lives in a dictatorship. There has been a rupture of the constitutional order, but before the court's ruling we were already living in a dictatorship. What the court did was to ratify what we were already denouncing for years,” said Carlos Vecchio, national political coordinator of the opposition party Voluntad Popular.

Vecchio was joined by the deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly and president of the Foreign Commission, Luis Florido, and hundreds of others outside the popular Doral Venezuelan restaurant, Arepazo, 10191 NW 58th St.

The protestors condemned what they called “ratification of the dictatorship in Venezuela,” a reference to the leftist President Nicolás Maduro and a years-long campaign to eradicate the country’s democratic institutions. Wednesday’s court ruling, widely and vocally condemned by the international community, capped that effort.

“Nicolás Maduro wants to become the Caesar or the king of Venezuela,” Florido said.

On Friday, Venezuela’s chief prosecutor broke with the government and rebuked the court decision stripping Congress of its last vestiges of power.

“We call for reflection, so that the democratic path can be retaken,” longtime government loyalist Luisa Ortega Diaz said, surrounded by aides who gathered around her and applauded loudly, according to the Associated Press in Caracas.

In Doral, home to a large Venezuelan community, the mood was angry and vocal, directed mostly at Maduro and the Supreme Court, appointed by the executive branch.

“Seven magistrates elected illegally can’t assume the position of an assembly elected by millions of Venezuelans. There is no valid argument to support that,” Vecchio said.

Vecchio also said the release of political prisoners and absolute respect for the National Assembly were “essential” for “the rescue of democracy” in Venezuela.

Vecchio and Florido are hopeful that since the country’s chief prosecutor spoke out, other institutions and high-ranking officials — including the armed forces — would follow suit.

Florido, the deputy of the Venezuelan National Assembly, said the Congress “does not obey the judgment of the court.”

The protestors carried signs and hurled epithets at Maduro. "No more dictatorship in Venezuela,” read one poster. "On the street against the coup" read another.

The atmosphere became a little heated when the deputy praised Ortega, the prosecutor, for denouncing the breakdown of the constitutional order.

"No! She has been part of the outrage!" some shouted.

Florido said everyone had a right to his opinion, but that the position of the Assembly was to welcome "anyone breaking with Nicolas Maduro’s regime".

"Who does not agree with me can continue a fight that is not going anywhere," Florido said.

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