Sunday, June 23, 2024

Number of Venezuelan Exiles Expected to Rise in Miami

Venezuelan American organizations in Miami expect increased immigration to the city following Sunday’s election in which President Hugo Chávez won the right to seek reelection indefinitely, prevailing in a referendum that eliminated term limits for the presidency and other elected offices.

Venezuelans voted 54 percent to 46 percent in favor of a Chávez-backed referendum lifting term limits, allowing him to run for a third six-year term for which he quickly announced after the measure passed.

Patricia Andrade, an attorney and director of Venezuela Vigilante says, “After the triumph of Chavez there will come more difficult times, with more repression against those that oppose Chavez, more persecution, and more political prisoners.  We will see soon an increase in Venezuelan exiles. We are receiving calls of people who are planning on leaving Venezuela because there is no future. It is very sad about what has happen, but its reality; now it is in God’s hands what will happen with Chavez” said Andrade. She added that in Miami the Venezuelan exiles go through the same experience that Cubans did.

Elio Aponte, President of Venezuelans in Exile says that the referendum has given Chavez the free right now to convert Venezuela into the next Cuba. “Venezuela is using military forces to follow and attack those that oppose the government, and they make it seem as those individuals have committed common crimes.”

With the situation in Venezuela, community activists expect that more Venezuelans will immigrate looking for a better life in the United States. Currently there are 160,000 Venezuelans throughout South Florida primarily in Miami as well as in other cities such as Tampa, Houston, and Atlanta.

Many Venezuelan Americans believed that the referendum would fail and were devastated with the results. Now, they are turning their focus to helping their countrymen who will soon seek refuge in the States. Chavez opposition groups in Miami argue that the referendum was unconstitutional citing a provision in the Venezuelan constitution that says you cannot have two referendums during the same presidential term. However, Chavez has violated this provision in his second term by calling two national referendums in order to eliminate term limits.

Hispanic American Center for Economic Research

Boston Herald