About 50 Venezuelans and other Latin Americans including former presidents Alejandro Toledo of Peru and Jorge Quiroga of Bolivia gathered Sunday afternoon in downtown Miami where they laid a wreath at the statue of South American independence leader Simón Bolívar.
The ceremony on Biscayne Boulevard near the Torch of Friendship, marked the 204th anniversary of Venezuelan independence dating back to July 5, 1811.
It was the two South American presidents, Toledo and Quiroga, who laid the wreath at the Bolívar statue, not only as a tribute to the hero but also as an expression of solidarity with opponents of President Nicolás Maduro’s government in Caracas.
Toledo expressed support for the Venezuelan opposition.
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“First I want with all my heart, send greetings to all Venezuelans democrats this July 5,” said Toledo, who governed Peru from 2001 to 2006. “Bolívar fought for freedom and unity, in contrast with Chávez and the Maduros of Venezuela who divide Latin America. I will not cease, in the days left to me by God, fighting for democracy, for freedom of expression, for human rights and for the separation of powers.”
Quiroga, meanwhile, praised Bolívar.
“On this July 5, that is so special to Venezuela, we pay tribute to the most important South American in history, Simón Bolívar, to whom we owe freedom, independence and in my case, my country, Bolivia, its name,” said Quiroga who served as president from 2001 to 2002.
Quiroga and Toledo were in Miami to attend an event called Democracy has No Borders: Venezuela is Not Alone held last week at the Wolfson campus of Miami Dade College in downtown Miami.
Also on hand for the Biscayne Boulevard ceremony were several prominent Venezuelan exiles including former Venezuelan National Guard Lt. José Colina, leader of the group Political and Persecuted Venezuelans in Exile; former Venezuelan army Gen. Antonio Rivero as well as José Gregorio Tovar of the group Demos of the Americas.
Follow Alfonso Chardy on Twitter @AlfonsoChardy